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Relay celebrates 12 years in Brookfield, Riverside

Published: Tuesday, July 23, 2013 11:01 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 11:52 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Matthew Piechalak - mpiechalak@shawmedia.com)
Mariah Vazquez, of Brookfield, and Ben Gates, of Riverside, walk a lap around the track during the Brookfield Relay For Life at Jaycee Ehlert Park in Brookfield on Saturday, July 20.

BROOKFIELD – This year marks a milestone for the Relay For Life of Brookfield/Riverside. The group has raised money for 12 years benefitting cancer research and treatments, and finally has reached $1 million. 

The 12th annual Relay For Life was held from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Jaycee Ehlert Park, 4300 Park Ave. The event included game-show-themed tents selling food and drinks alongside a chance to play the games.

Committee member of Relay For Life of Brookfield/Riverside, Judy Rospenda, said the tents are playing off the theme “Who Wants to be a Relay Millionaire.” 

The food, drinks, raffle and silent auction money raised will go into the Relay for Life chapters in the Western suburbs, Jenna DeAngelis, income development representative of the American Cancer Society, said. 

The funds go into programs such as Road to Recovery, which gives cancer patients rides to their treatments and Reach to Recovery, which gives someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer support from a volunteer who is a breast cancer survivor, DeAngelis said. 

“To meet these people and know that what we’re doing for people’s lives keeps you going,” Rospenda said. 

The group gives survivors a T-shirt at the event that says “I am hope.” It makes the day a little special for them; bringing people and families together makes survivors thrilled for another year, she said.

The Riverside Public Library is participating in the event for the first time to honor a co-worker who died from complications from breast cancer a few months ago, Jackie Aumann, financial coordinator of the library, said. 

Aumann said Irene, the co-worker, worked at the library for 30 years and they have received positive feedback from the neighborhood. 

“I’m excited that we’re doing this,” she said. “We’ve had an awesome experience so far.” 

Rospenda said one of the most emotional parts of the event is the Luminaria Ceremony. The ceremony honors people affected by cancer by writing his or her name on a bag with a candle inside. 

Aumann said she is a survivor of colon cancer and had her name in the Luminaria ceremony at another Relay for Life a few years ago.

“It really meant a lot to me,” she said. 

The Brookfield/Riverside Relay reached their $1 million goal last month and had raised $27,425 as of Wednesday, DeAngelis said. The group expected to raise another $10,000 at the event and has a goal of raising $50,000 by the end of the summer.

“It’s good to see people doing good things together,” Aumann said. 

To donate visit www.relayforlife.org/brookfieldil or send donations to 225 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1210, Chicago 60601. The website for donations is open until Aug. 31. 

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