Relay For Life 2012 kicks off

Betty Bonura, co-chair of the American Cancer Society’s Relayfor Life of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights, beganvolunteering with the organization 14 years ago, four years beforecancer directly affected her.

For four years, I collected money, Bonura recalled.Unfortunately, it’s hit me six times since then – my two sisters,my mother, my cousin, my dear friend and me.

Yet, she has refused to become discouraged, with the experiencesof the last decade only strengthening Bonura’s resolve.

The determination was to get more involved, she said. Istepped up to the plate then.

Bonura and Co-Chair Amy Procida are working towards June 23,when the annual Relay for Life, held from noon to 11 p.m. at FortHamilton Athletic Field, will be in full swing.

The relay is walked by volunteers who have raised donations onthe promise that someone from their team will continue makingnon-stop laps around the track for the duration of the event. Thisis meant to symbolize the fact that cancer doesn’t rest. Thefundraiser — which begins with a lap around the track by cancersurvivors — also features live entertainment and team-buildingactivities.

On February 6, Relay for Life of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst andDyker Heights held a kickoff celebration for the event, at St.Athanasius Church on the corner of 61st Street and Bay Parkway. Theceremony included a presentation of awards for last year’s relay,along with remarks by cancer caregivers and survivors.

These people come together every year to unite for a commoncause, and that’s cancer, said Nancy Colt, director of specialevents for the Brooklyn division of the American Cancer Society.Because of communities like this, we’re going to find a cure.

Kristen Adams and Kaitlin Hall are co-owners of the bakeryWhipped Together, which donated a cake to the kickoff to spread theword about the baking contest which takes place on June 23, as partof the fundraiser. The two sisters lost their mother tonon-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1994.

I think everyone we know has lost someone, Adams said. Canceraffects everyone, so it’s great to be involved in such a greatcause.

Relay For Life of Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights hasraised over $1 million for the American Cancer Society in the 13years it has been held. Last year, there were 5,146 relay eventsnationwide. The organization reports $416.5 million in nationalgross revenue made in 2010 from the relays.

This community is incredibly committed to the cause, Coltsaid.

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