Giving Back: Relay for Life readies run

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014


LAPLACE — Today marks the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease and rally people behind the cause of finding a cure.

Locally, Relay for Life has been a huge factor behind that push, and in mid-October, the St. John the Baptist Parish branch of the non-profit organization seeks to bring new members into the fold.

Relay for Life of St. John Parish’s annual kickoff party is slated for Oct. 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Rotolo’s Grapevine Bar on Belle Terre.

The idea behind the event is to provide a fun setting for prospective new team members to learn about Relay for Life and to have questions answered, as well as a venue for existing team members to catch up and reminisce with one another.

“It’s an opportunity for us to spread the word,” Relay for Life of St. John co-chair Michelle Cazenave said. “It’s a place where anyone who wants to be a part of Relay for Life can find out what we’re all about. At the party we’re able to talk about what someone who wants to join needs to know, and do it in an enjoyable way.”

Cazenave said the Relay for Life experience is a rewarding one, noting the overall goal of raising money to donate to the American Cancer Society.

“The more people join up, the more teams we have and the more money we can raise,” Cazenave said. “There are researchers there (with the American Cancer Society) who just don’t have the funding to complete their research. We work at this because we want the person who may just be the one on the verge of a cure for cancer to have the ability to see that through.”

The Relay for Life teams Cazenave alluded to don’t just participate at the annual Relay event, but also come up with ideas to raise money for the cause.

One example is the sale of luminaria bags, which Cazenave said Relay for Life encourages all teams to sell. Luminaria bags are transformed and illuminated after dark at every local Relay For Life event.

Each luminaria is personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been impacted by cancer. Luminaria can also be dedicated in support of a Relay participant.

Each luminaria candle represents a person. Each carries a cost of $10.

Other teams do raffles. Some get creative: last year, teams would “flock” a house by posting plastic pink flamingos into its front yard, with the “victim” tasked with donating to the cause — and then passing the gesture forward to another house. 

“Hopefully, we see someone adopt that again,” Cazenave said. 

The official Relay for Life event in St. John Parish is set from 2 p.m. to midnight May 2, 2015, at Joe Keller Memorial Stadium.