Throughout my years at Oyster River High School, I have been a part of many wonderful groups, clubs, and organizations. However, Relay for Life definitely stands out as one of the most meaningful and enjoyable groups I’ve had the opportunity to help out with.
I was a coordinator for both my junior and senior years, and I have seen some changes in both the students and level of participation. This year, we had one of the smallest groups we’ve ever had, and as a result, we had to come up with a new alternative to our end of the year event. Doing a large walk on the track didn’t seem to make the most sense, given our group’s small size.
Together, the coordinators and Susan Wilkinson, our advisor, worked to come up with something new. The event is always focused on reflection, so we thought a natural place, such as a park or beach, with lots of walking trails and open air would be beneficial. We considered several local parks, and ended up going to Odiorne Point State Park. We organized some different activities, and built in plenty of time for thought and reflection. Learn more about the event, and Relay for Life in general, below!
Members of the ORHS Relay for Life team gathered at Odiorne Point Beach State Park on Saturday, June 2nd. Jake Zamansky (‘20) (not pictured here) has been involved in Relay for Life for many years, and this year joined the ORHS team. He described the event, saying, “I thought it was excellent, very fun. I enjoyed the bubbles and writing reasons [why we do Relay] the most.”
The group began walking through the park. At times, members had conversations, laughing and enjoying the great weather. However, as part of the Luminaria tradition, in which those who have lost the battle to cancer are remembered, we took several moments of silence to think and reflect. “I think the Luminaria is especially important, since the event is so fun, I think sometimes we forget to reflect on those who have died of cancer. It helps us remember our biggest goal which is to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” says coordinator Jessica Leach (‘18).
Another part of every Relay event is the Celebration. This is a time to eat and drink, with the idea that we are celebrating the fact that those with cancer could have more birthdays if the ACS receives more money for research. Oftentimes, cakes or cupcakes are served, going along with the whole “more birthdays” theme.
Members each wrote letters, either to a cancer victim or survivors, about why they did Relay, or any aspect relating to those things. Maggie Keenan (‘20) is seen writing her letter here. She said, “I wrote about how I joined Relay at first just to branch out more and try new clubs. I’m glad that I joined now because it was nice to be able to help people going through cancer, and it was fun to help out with the fundraisers and stuff. Plus, everyone in the club was there to help make a difference and it’s just really great atmosphere.”
Alana Eisenberg (‘21) blows bubbles into the ocean. For the last part of the event, we always try to include something symbolic, to both represent why we do Relay as well as remember those who have passed. This year we chose to use bubbles, and told people they could blow bubbles and reflect on Relay as a whole. We told them they could let the bubbles represent anything they’d like. For me, the bubbles represented hope. We are setting them free, off to a better place, much like those we lose to cancer. Eisenberg said, “I thought it was a great way to close out the day and symbolized the people in our lives who have been affected by cancer. This was a unique way of remembering them.”
Pictured here is Leach wearing her 2018 Relay for Life shirt. When members meet their fundraising goal, usually around $100, they receive a t-shirt such as this one. Leach said, “reaching your goal is such a good feeling, because it means that even though it’s kind of small, you’re still making a positive change.”