Relay for Life kickoff readies Sussex to battle cancer

The Relay for Life of Sussex County held its 2019 kickoff Feb. 13 at Arena’s at the Airport, in preparation for the June 1 event at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown. This year’s theme is Carnival for a Cure. From left, Ashley Webb, Delmarva Region Community Development Manager for the American Cancer Society; event co-chair Tammy Spencer and event chair Vicky Pachuta. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — The local, voluntary battle in the war on cancer is picking up steam in Sussex County.

Teams have been formed, others are forming, and fundraising is ongoing as a prelude to the 2019 Relay for Life of Sussex County, set for Saturday, June 1 at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown.

A Relay for Life kickoff event Wednesday at Arena’s at the Airport laid the foundation for this year event that will play to a “Carnival for a Cure’ theme.

Captains and members from some of the 20-plus teams along with American Cancer Society representatives participated in the kickoff, which featured informational updates and an entertaining spinoff of the Jeopardy gameshow through which team members earned spirit points.

The Relay for Life event June 1 will run from 2 to 10 p.m. at an outdoor setting at the Sussex Central’s stadium. In addition to opening and closing ceremonies, there will be a survivors’ reception and the luminaria bag-lighting ceremony, which will be held at dusk.

“There will be lots of entertainment, and lots of activities planned. We will have a DJ. There will be music. And food trucks … there will be plenty of food,” said Vicky Pachuta, chairwoman for the Relay for Life of Sussex County. “Everything is outdoors. So we are praying that we have good weather this year.”

The 2019 event is being held in memory of someone who was active in local Relay effort as a committee member.

“One of our committee members passed away at the end of last year, Robert Karpin. It’s in memory of him,” said Ms. Pachuta. “It’s the first time we have had it affect our committee. So, that was a big hit for us last year.”

At the Relay for Life, participating teams will decorate their assigned sites and offer games tied to the carnival theme as supplemental fundraisers for the event.

As of the kickoff, there were 21 teams. “Our goal is to at least have 30. We take teams all the way up to the day of the event,” said Ms. Pachuta.

Relay for Life fundraising helps to reduce the burden cancer can have on the community, families and individuals through continuation of programs such as Road to Recovery, the 24/7 Hotline, research grants, patient lodging programs, TLC (hair loss and mastectomy products) and more.

“The majority of it (funds raised) stays here,” said Ms. Pachuta. “And Relay is for all cancers. It doesn’t just go with breast cancer or colon cancer. It’s all cancers.

Last year, inclement weather impacted the Sussex Relay event staged at Sussex Tech High School.

“The weather played against a little bit last year, so we had to move everything condensed inside,” said Ms. Pachuta. “Last year we made $98,000. We are shooting this year for $150,000.”

Overall, the 2018 Relay for Life of Sussex County achieved 137 percent of goals.

“I know you have set your sights really high this year, and I know you guys will reach them,” said Ashley Webb, ACS Community Development Manager for the Delmarva region.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the ACS, with events coordinated by volunteers in more than 5,200 communities in 27 countries worldwide. Teams raise money in the fight against cancer and then unite for a community event to celebrate those who have won the battle against cancer, remember loved ones lost to the disease and fight back with those battling cancer.

For more information, visit Relay for Life of Sussex County on Facebook (, at its website or call 1-800-227-2345.

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