by Dan McClelland
Superheroes mingled with regular heroes Saturday in Tupper Lake to send a message to the world that cancer can be beaten.
The theme of this year’s Relay for Life was superheroes, and among the teams were many colorful costumed characters- all dedicated to fighting the disease.
This year’s Relay event, the sixth one here, had a new location this year: the Tupper Lake Municipal Park. -And like its predecessors, it generated lots of money to fight the dreaded disease of Cancer.
On Saturday it was announced that over $17,000 had been raised, but organizers know more donations will be coming in upcoming days toward what they hope will be a $20,000 grant total this year.
Saturday's Relay for Life- this year for the first time at the municipal park and not the Rotary Club track and field where it has been in recent years- was greeted with sunny skies and gentle breezes across the pond.
The event this year was directed by three chairwomen- Lisa Reed, Ruth Burnell and Bridgette LaPierre. The women said they were hoping the new location would bring more people to the event, particularly those residents and visitors passing by the park.
The trio took over this year, when past organizers stepped down.
High School Senior Annachristi Cordes opened the formal ceremonies at noon that day with a strong performance of the national anthem. The Rev. Rick Wilburn, in his opening prayer, prayed for the day when the disease cure would be found with God's blessing.
Mayor Paul Maroun welcomed the survivors, their families and supporters to the important benefit.
“I was only 17 when my mother died from cancer and over 40 years later” it touched me personally, he told the crowd.
He said in life many people look and act tough. He mentioned in particular motorcycle riders and military people. “But when the doctor tells you that you have cancer, no one is tough!”
The mayor said his nephew is a medical researcher currently working at the famous Mayo Clinic with other professionals looking to find a cure for the disease. “We will find a cure for cancer in our lifetimes,” he promised the group.
The guest speaker that day was Tupper Lake'sTracye Snyder who said that shortly after she had been diagnosed with cancer she became acquainted closely with the Hope Lodge, a not for profit organization devoted to easing the suffering of people during the time they are taking their treatments.
She called the lodge “a haven in the storm” for her and thousands of others fighting cancer.
“Hope Lodge is funded by events like this!”
She said cancer has touched her life very closely- first when her mother died from it in 2013 and two years later when she was diagnosed with it herself.
She said that she was undergoingtreatment in Burlington when she first learned about Hope Lodge.
“I filled out an application and byafternoon's end I got a call I was approved to stay there. It was incredible!”
Mrs. Snyder said the organization's facility is situated at the edge of the parking lot at the Burlington facility.
The first person she met was a caring individual by the name of Paul, who was the night manager.
“Paul was a Godsend. He put me immediately at ease!
She said the care she received there during her six-week stay was “amazing.”
The organization's goal is to make a person's time during therapy as stress-free as possible- so the person can focus on getting better, she explained the people gathered in front of her.
“They welcomed Tom (her husband) and my family with open arms!”
“Our evenings were filled with great food and after-dinner coffee, and I'm a coffee addict.”
“I wasn't used to being waited on and the first night I was there, I asked about coffee. Paul ran and got it for me, saying there were too many people in the kitchen for me to go there. There was no one in the kitchen!”
In the evenings too we played games called Mexican Train, “and they'll be forever with me.”
“I'd go every morning for treatment and return there to the smell of something wonderful” from the lodge kitchen. On Fridays, the smell was the rich aroma of bacon.
“I checked out of the lodge on December 24, a better person for experiencing all they do for people there! -And I'm coming up on the one year anniversary!”
Another key factor in her treatments was the care given to her by a local chiropractor, John Cerruti. “If you don't know John you should. He has helped me way and beyond my weekly adjustments.”
Tracye was a member of this year's Irish for a cure team.
Joan Sterling, community manager for the American Cancer Society, let out a loud howl of appreciation from her organization when she stepped up to the microphone.
“Tupper Lake thank you for doing this...you are a great bunch of people!”
She told the audience members to approach the people in the red t-shirts who were the organizers of the relay and thank them for their efforts.
“We said we wanted a large relay and Tupper Lake make it happen!”
“So let's relay,” she yelled again to begin the event.
The Tupper Lake Honor Guard led the survivors, in purple t-shirts, around the first ceremonial lap- up the firemen's strip, across to the shoreline walkway and back across the grass to the strip.
Compared with the Rotary field's oval, it was a much shorter walk.
Organizers had a full line-up of activities over the course of the next 12 hours, before adjourning at midnight.
One of the annual highlights was the luminary walk in the dark at 10p.m. where participants carry paper bags with candles inside which are donated in memory of loved ones and which are eventually lit for a striking effect.
Music was donated by the 2 Bitts band of Tupper Lake- drummer Dennis Torres, Bernie Trombley on bass and guitarist and singer Dennis Pickering. They kept things rocking with popular tunes of the 60s and 70s.
More good tunes came from the Jones Boys, a popular local band, also donated their time to entertain at the event.
A number of other younger folks performed too. Noah and Annachristi Cordes and Max LaClair played a song or two, as did Martina Jensen on ukulele and Ben Jones on guitar.
When live performers weren’t on stage, Disc Jockey Kevin St. Louis kept the tunes coming.
The presence of Woodmen Lodge was very much felt, as lodge officers John Ellis, Rick Reandeau and others kept the dogs and hamburgers coming. The fraternal life insurance company also paid for the insurance so that the lodge could operate its popular bounce house and for the large lights to light up the park after dark.
The Tupper Lake Lions Club had its cook trailer available for organizers to use and donated several hundred dollars in foodstuffs for the event. The Rotary Club also donated food to the event.
Some of this year’s teams included I-rish for a Cure, green-clad folks sporting shamrocks sponsored by LeRoy’s Auto Sales, the Dew Wonkas, of Willy Wonka fame, many of whom helped work the food concession, the Jomi Tremblay trio, the Kiwanis Club, the Ladies in Pink and Men in Black, who came disguised in great costumes (Sue Provost was the captain), Donna Adams’ Busy Bees from Long Lake, Team Juliette Rossing, Charlie’s Angels, Council of Power (students from Clifton-Fine), Team Hope, Love and Faith and Me, You and the Red, White and Blue, sponsored by the local VFW Post.
Although superheroes was the overall theme, teams could select their own themes and many did.
It was a great event that left many looking forward to next year’s version. Congratulations to all organizers, participants and supporters!
by Dan McClelland