Few will forget the Relay for Life ceremonies that occurred at Huntington High School on June 9. To say that the night was a massive success in battling cancer is a huge understatement. In all, the Huntington High School's first Relay for Life experience led to the collection of $118,862, making Huntington the second-largest high school relay event in all of New York. If that staggering collection wasn't enough, the turnout at the event said even more about the commitment of the Huntington students. The entire high school track, as well as the majority of the lacrosse field, was packed with kids ready to walk around the track for hours on end. Cancer never sleeps, and neither did we.
The Huntington High School Relay consisted of 60 teams and nearly 600 participants. Throughout the night these teams sent at least one representative to walk the high school track for a certain amount of time, making sure that someone was always walking as a way to fight back against cancer. However, the participants did much more than walk. Weeks before, most teams had assembled to raise awareness for the event, as well as find new donors for the cause. In addition, many of Huntington's finest musicians, ranging from professional artists to the local high school jazz band, put on a show for those willing to take a few laps around the track. Meanwhile, those who weren't on the track could hang out with the rest of their teams in tents stationed on the field. These areas were also filled with activities to keep the participants entertained, such as Can Jam and Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. No matter where you went that night, there was always something to do.
Before the walking began, there was an emotional one-hour gathering where all of the participants approached the stage near the track to listen to the stories of both cancer survivors and everyday people whose lives were affected by the disease. During this hour we all witnessed tales of triumph and tragedy, all of which reinvigorated our spirit to continue the fight against cancer. Also, we learned how the idea for a Relay for Life at Huntington High School was conceived. It turns out the real masterminds behind this fundraiser were none other than Huntington High School students themselves. According to the story, the adults of the school stood back in silence and watched how a small group of high schoolers developed the plan for the event. Without the students' determination and efforts, more than $100,000 would not be on its way to the American Cancer Society. After witnessing this spectacular night, it became clear that kids like us can make a difference in our community, so long as we have the will to see these efforts through to the end. And, as we lit memorial luminary bags with candles in them that shone in the night, I realized that this Relay for Life was only the beginning.