Relay For Life: An overwhelming success


Relay for Life Staff

The 2019 Hunterdon County Relay for Life raised over $50,000 for the American Cancer Society

Clare Erwin, The Delphi Editor

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Hunterdon County successfully ran its annual overnight Relay on Friday, May 3rd at the Hunterdon County fairgrounds. Delaware Valley Regional High School, along with Hunterdon Central High School, participated in the all-night event which raised money for the American Cancer Society.

The event raised an incredible $56,009.79, surpassing the original goal of $50,000. Del Val’s fundraising team, Purple Power, earned gold team status for raising the most money, with $6,749. The HC Staff raised the second most, with $5,156.

The behind-the-scenes work that went into the event was largely due to the efforts made by Tracey DePano, the American Cancer Society’s Sr. Community Development Manager for Hunterdon County. As the regional representative of Del Val’s, Clinton Township’s, and North Hunterdon’s Relays, DePano attended every meeting, helping to construct the events and managing the financial aspects as well. Additionally, emcee Kris Dumschat handled all of the announcements and the time frame of the event. He was pivotal in keeping the event moving.

Despite the possibility of rain, an estimated 300 community members attended the Relay. The event was sponsored by numerous local companies and businesses, including the Chimney Rock Inn, Jersey Mike’s, ShopRite, Factory Fuel and Hunterdon Healthcare. Many others also offered food and contributed their services to the event.

While countless activities took place during the course of the night, some of the highlights included guest speaker and cancer survivor Ed Winnick, followed by Thea Smith and by the caregiver and grandmother of 5-year-old cancer survivor Toby Smith.

Performances by vocalists Kiley and Alex Baxter, Del Val’s choir, Vox Blue, and musicians Miles Hudgins, Joe Carew, and Maggie Erwin, as well as DJ Aiden Fernandez, were the musical entertainment for the Relay. At 2AM, the professional musicians Dom and Jesse entertained the overnight Relay teams.

One of the most touching moments of the night was the Luminaria Ceremony, which used hundreds of lights, placed in paper bags, to remember the lives of cancer patients. Each bag represents an individual and stays lit through the remainder of the night.

Mr. Gessner, who coordinates the event for Hunterdon County, explains that the layout of event itself was what inspired him to take part. He says the goal of Relay For Life is to minimize the effects of cancer and give hope to those currently affected by the disease. “That’s what this is about: people having hope with a very difficult disease.” Gessner also mentions the importance of honoring the caregivers, who support their loved ones continuously throughout treatment.

“That’s what brings me joy in this,” says Gessner, “the giving back. In the end I ask myself this question: cancer and heart disease are the number one and number two killers in Hunterdon County, so what am I doing about it?”

Cancer remains a constant struggle in the lives of many individuals, which is why donations to Relay For Life remain open. Hunterdon County’s next event, the Rollin’ Fast Bike Nite, will take place on June 6th from 6-9 PM. The upcoming event will be held for a second year in a row at the Rollin’ Fast Cycle Sports on Route 22 in Lebanon, NJ. There will be a silent auction, bike contest, and an appearance by Lone Eagle Brewing. Please come out and support the American Cancer Society and those affected by the disease.

For more details about the American Cancer Society and the upcoming Rollin’ Fast Bike Night, visit: