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Relay for Life to wrap up annual fundraising event at Look Memorial Park, Florence

  • PHOTO  COURTESY JANICE BEETLE<br/><br/>Stacey Chickering is the volunteer coordinator for this year's Relay for Life.<br/>

EDITOR’S NOTE:

This is the last in a series of guest articles explaining aspects of Relay For Life of Hampshire County, an annual American Cancer Society fundraiser. The two-day Relay concludes June 14 at Look Memorial Park in Florence.

During last year’s Relay For Life of Hampshire County in Look Park, a couple out for a walk in the park stopped volunteer Stacey Chickering to ask what all the commotion was about.

Once the two learned that Relay was an American Cancer Society event that raised money for cancer research and programs, they donated $100 and asked if they could walk too.

As the volunteer coordinator for Relay, that’s the kind of story Chickering likes to tell.

In addition to leading the Relay volunteers this year for the first time, Chickering is also a mother to two sons who, she says, are a major reason she became involved.

Her older son, 18-year-old Noah, has a team at Northampton High School called Fireflies. Caleb, 13, is part of a team at JFK Middle School.

Both brothers are passionate about volunteering. Noah prompted the family to participate in Relay after seeing how much it meant to many of his friends. Caleb recruited a friend for his Relay team whose grandmother passed away from cancer.

There are other personal connections that motivate the family as well. Chickering has lost two aunts, one great-uncle, one uncle and several cousins to cancer, and colon cancer runs in her family.

When Relay organizers found themselves with no volunteer coordinator this year, Tom McCusker of Florence, one of the three tri-chairs, thought immediately of asking Chickering because of her dedication to the cause.

In 2013, Relay had 97 teams that raised over $277,000 for the American Cancer Society. Chickering hopes that this year’s event will exceed those numbers. If cures for various types of cancer can be found, she said, “hopefully someday we won’t have to do it anymore.”

The Relay will end June 14 at 3 p.m.

Lisa Marie Leary is a junior at Westfield State University. She assists with publicity for Relay For Life of Hampshire County.

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