Students are the driving force behind Relay for Life

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Two day event to benefit the American Cancer Society

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – For the third consecutive year, students at the Middle Township High School have organized the township’s Relay for Life, and this year the event is larger than ever.

The relay begins at 6 p.m. Friday, May 16 and ends 12 hours later at 6 a.m. Saturday, May 17. As of Monday, May 5, 48 teams and 350 participants had signed up for the overnight walk and pledged more than $19,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Sammy Geisinger, student council president and event chairwoman, said the goal is to raise at least $30,000 for the fight against cancer.

“We started organizing this year’s relay in September 2013,” Geisinger said. “We had to pick the theme of the event, and select the students who would be in charge of the committees.”

The entire event is planned by students, said Amy Giulian, a teacher and student council advisor. There are parent helpers, such as Michelle Salfi, Geisinger’s mother, but it’s the students who organize the relay.

“We’ve gotten a lot of the kids involved,” said Geisinger. “All of the committees are made up of students.”

There’s the logistics committee that laid out the course for the walkers at Memorial Field in Middle Township, and figured out where the tents would be placed to support the overnight fundraiser. There are also committees for activities and the carnival theme, who plan ways to keep the walkers awake for the 12-hour trek.

A luminaries committee organizes the ceremony that takes place at 10 p.m. Friday, to honor cancer victims and survivors. Paper bags with candles inside are inscribed with their names and displayed on the track and bleachers at Memorial Field.

“We have 20 members of student council who are committee chairs,” Geisinger said. “There are approximately 70 students working on the relay this year,” she said.

Most of the teams walking in the Relay for Life are made up of community members, Geisinger said.

“We also have students and clubs at the high school who have registered.”

Registration for the relay is open until the night of the event.

“The biggest challenge the students have in organizing the relay is that they are so involved with so many activities,” Giulian said. “Our kids do crazy amounts of work for our community and our school.”

The advisor said that the students met during spring break and on weekends to pull together this year’s Relay for Life.

“Anytime that we can get the majority of us together, we meet,” Giulian said.

Middle Township’s Relay for Life was begun three years ago by Tess Bright, who was then student council president.

The first year, the students raised about $15,000 for the American Cancer Society, which uses the money to help survivors get well and stay well, as well as to research cures for cancer.

Last year, the relay raised about $25,000.

“There wasn’t a relay at Middle prior to three years ago,” Giulian said. “It’s started small and grown over the years.”

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* WHAT: Relay for Life of Middle Township

* WHEN: May 16-17, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

* WHERE: Memorial Field along West Pacific Avenue in Cape May Court House

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