By Michelle Colesanti

Every year over four million people around the world take part to raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. All the money raised at the Relay for Life events support the mission of the American Cancer Society to eliminate cancer as a major health problem by prevention, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.

Cancer survivors, caregivers, volunteers, and community members will all unite for the annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of SouthShore on Saturday, April 16 from 12 Noon and ending on Sunday, April 17 at 6 a.m. at Lennard High School, located at 2342 Shell Point Rd E. in Ruskin.

So far, 40 teams and about 500 participants have raised almost  $43,000. This year’s Event Lead is Jasmine Kaufer.

This year’s theme is Closing the Book on Cancer! Theme laps are based on activities from books such as a Quidditch Tournament and a Very Hungry Caterpillar eating contest.

The Opening Ceremony begins at 12 Noon and shortly thereafter a celebratory cancer survivors lap will begin. Any community member that is a survivor may walk the victory lap. You can sign up on the Relay for Life Website.

From 2-5 p.m., there will be performances by South Shore Rising Stars, Lennard HS Winterguard, East Bay HS Winterguard and more.

A touching Luminaria Ceremony, where candles are lit in honor and memory of those who have battled cancer, will take place at 9 p.m.

Teena Stewart, this year’s experience lead, said that for her, relay is about fighting back.

“We’ve come so far in the fight against cancer in the last decade, but there is still so much more we can do. With every dollar we raise we help fund the research that helps not only look for a cure but also helps lead to early detection. To me early detection is a big deal,” Stewart said. Her father’s mother is a three-time cancer survivor and was lucky enough to catch it in the early stages and fight it, but her mother’s step-mom was not so lucky. “She went years with an incorrect diagnosis of arthritis and by the time they found the bone cancer it was too late and she passed less than three months after her diagnosis.”

More team participation is welcome. For more information on area events and Relay for Life, visit

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Michelle Colesanti
Michelle has been with the Osprey Observer for almost nine years, and her current position is Assignment Editor. She resides in Bloomingdale with her husband Phil, two sons, Philip and Matthew, and Tigger the cat.