Thursday, July 2, 2009
Relay for Life 2009: Middle Village
By Patricia Adams
Middle Village was a hangout for Superheroes this weekend, as the neighborhood hosted its 7th Annual Relay for Life. The theme for this years event—Superheroes, defined as “fictional characters of unprecedented powers, dedicated to acts of derring-do in the public interest". While the term may conjure up images like Superman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man or Spiderman, Juniper Valley Park was filled with real heroes this weekend - the cancer survivors that came out to celebrate their personal victories over the disease and to remember friends and loved ones lost to the disease.
The survivors were joined by throngs of caregivers and supporters, friends and family members who formed teams to walk the running track through the weekend, raising money in support of the American Cancer Society (ACS).
And in the crowds of people there were real life heroes—the stories of their triumphant struggles against the life-threatening disease and the people that helped them in their quest.
There was Margaret Browne of Masepth. Two years ago, the Maspeth Federal Savings employee was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Now she is cancer-free, back at work at Maspeth Federal Savings and in remission according to family members who were busy setting up loaves of Irish soda bread, lemon muffins and a variety of baked goods for sale to benefit the ACS.
The team named “Margaret’s Miracles” formed in her honor was, according to Margaret’s daughter Catherine, named for the miracle of her cure and for the “extreme” family support that went into it. “We never treated her differently. We all went through this together,” Catherine said. “We went for chemo with her and we just did everything we had to. Together. And we got a miracle.”
And there were others. Now nine-years-old, Caroline Watters of Ozone Park was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, (AML), seven years ago. AML is a myeloid line of blood cells, in which rapidly growing abnormal white blood cells accumulate in the bone marrow and interfere with "Haematopoiesis" the production of normal blood cells.
In need of a life saving bone marrow transplant, it was her sister Lisette, then 4, who was a perfect match. The successful procedure has left the sisters with the opportunity to share a lifetime of healthy years together.
Then there were those who came in memory of their loved ones. Lifelong Glendale resident Loretta DeVita passed away last year after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer about nine months prior. Her granddaughters Shannon and Katie Hatton formed team “All About Me” in Loretta’s memory. Their team was comprised of 14 members each wearing t-shirts with one of the words the team offered up as the “advice and tools” needed to deal with cancer. Shannon came up with the clever concept using the words and her sister Katie served as the team’s co- captain with Michele Cimigoia.
Believe. Fight. Conquer. Laugh. Live. Remember. Endure. Hope. Strength. Cure. Faith. Courage. Celebrate. Love. Much more than words to the crowd gathered at Juniper Valley Park, the messages carried through offered inspiration and hope to everyone in the crowd.
Also inspiring was the total money raised for the event. A whopping $140,000 to support research, prevention and the myriad of support services offered by the ACS.
One of the corporate sponsors, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, has been on board with the Relay since its inception. David Daraio, assistant vice president, spoke to the crowd at the opening ceremony. In an emotional moment, Daraio congratulated his community and provided some very reassuring information. “This community can count on Maspeth Federal Savings as a sponsor of this event for many years to come.”