March 4, 2008


Time for Relay for Life kickoff

Form a team, find out more at Thursday 5:30 p.m. event

Relay for Life

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Janet Stokoe, former Cortland resident, and Judy Swartwout, of Cortland, greet supporters at the 2007 Relay for Life at SUNY Cortland.

Contributing Writer

Jean Reagan was an inspiration to her fellow teachers at Randall Elementary School when she walked in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life Survivor Lap a few years ago.
“This was big for all of us, including Jeannie, as she had been out of school for a year being treated for bone cancer,” said Bea Busch, the Randall “Redliners” team co-captain.
Sadly, Reagan passed away from the disease last summer, but the inspiration she gave her teammates and friends lives on.
“What brings me back this year is to walk for Jeannie … she had an amazing spirit and love of life,” said Busch.
Fellow Randall Redliners co-captain Janet Griffin adds, “Her courage and bravery will remain with me always.”
This year’s Relay for Life will take place June 20 and 21 at SUNY Cortland’s Davis field. People are forming teams now or already have teams formed and registered for the American Cancer Society celebration and fundraiser.
To find out more, attend the special 2008 Relay for Life Kickoff 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Kaufman Center, Valley View Drive, Cortland. For more information, contact Anne Wingard at or call (607) 758-4106.
All are welcome. The kickoff is a great way to get information about the Relay for Life, or to get your Relay juices flowing for another extraordinary event.
Randall school faculty has found that their experiences at the Relay for Life over the years have brought them closer together. After the first Relay for Life in 2002, the Cortland City School District had one combined team. In recent years, several schools have had their own individual teams take part. Throughout the years, those who have participated in this event have found that it is a way to get to know friends and neighbors on a deeper level.
“I think it has really built community and family feeling for our staff,” said Busch. “Staying over[night] has lead to many memorable moments and a shared history of laughs and tears and stories.” Walking the track often leads to conversations and laughter with new and old friends alike, as Griffin remembers from her earliest Relay experiences. “It was an amazing sense of camaraderie with my friends at Randall. Many great talks took place as we walked around the track hour after hour.”
The entire team has shared in the joy as team members and their loved ones have participated in the Survivor Lap. This year, they will certainly share reflections and memories as luminarias for Reagan and others who have lost the battle to cancer flicker quietly in the night.
The Randall Redliners also use the experience to teach their students about giving back to the community. The team has held rummage and bake sales at the school to raise money for the American Cancer Society, and the students themselves have helped by collecting pennies for the team. At the event, students who may be participating on other teams with family or friends can see firsthand what their teachers are doing to fight for such a worthy cause.
While the Randall Redliners take the fight against cancer seriously, they also know that the Relay for Life is a celebration, a celebration of life and of remembering those held dear. Anyone who has attended a Relay for Life knows that it is a place where tears and laughter mingle. This team knows how to bring the laughter into that balance, such as the year they sold pink flamingos as a fundraiser. As far their time together as a team, Busch states “We just laugh and laugh and laugh — laughing is good.”
The Randall Redliners are certainly a team who has come to love what the Relay for Life is all about.
“It really brings the community together,” Griffin said.
Mary Ellen Ensign is a Homer resident and a member of the Relay for Life organizing committee.