AUBURN, Mass. – Hundreds of charitable residents walked laps at Lemansky Park in Auburn from Friday night into Saturday morning, raising money to fight cancer.
The 9th Annual Central South County Relay for Life, an 18-hour event, raised money for research and development of better cancer treatments, with the eventual goal of finding a cure.
“It’s a really great community event for people to come out to,” said Meghan Hoffsommer, a community development executive for the American Cancer Society. “And money goes directly to local causes, right in our backyard to help people in our community.”
She said some of the money is going to Hope Lodge Worcester, a patient service program of the American Cancer Society, which offers free lodging and support for cancer patients traveling to Massachusetts for treatment.
The event had relay teams from Auburn, Millbury, Leicester and Charlton in addition to teams from Braintree and Providence, R.I.
Each relay team sent a single person at a time to circle the track, switching off with members throughout the 18 hours. Teams received donations in exchange for their promise to have someone walking the track for the entire event.
Jeff Lourie has been leading the Auburn Police Association team for seven years. Lourie’s nephew, Jacob Boudreau, inspired Lourie to start the team in 2006 when he was battling a form of children’s cancer.
“We’re still here after seven years, even stronger with Auburn High School teaming up with us,” Lourie said. “I’m uplifted by the show of support by so many people with similar situations, such as the one my family was living with day-to-day.
“This event shows us that you can celebrate with those that are free from cancer. You can encourage, support and smile with those that are fighting the disease,” Lourie said. “And we also are here to pay tribute and honor to those who have been taken from us, such as Jacob, who passed away on April 10, 2010.”
There was plenty of activity throughout the 18-hour event. The Survivors Lap kicked off the event, as cancer survivors celebrated their victory and others drew support from survivors while they continue to endure treatments.
In addition, participants lined the track with luminaria bags that have burning candles inside and are decorated to honor someone who had cancer. As the luminaria bags were lit, a brief ceremony was held and each walker lit a candle for a lap in silence along the track.
The event also had musical entertainment, DJs, a raffle, a karate demonstration and kids’ games, among many other activities.
There will be a Potluck Relay Wrap-up Celebration at the Mary D. Stone Elementary School in Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 29. Details will follow.