SUSAN SEIDMAN : We were walking in small groups for nearly three hours last night when time came to gather at the main stage, where survivors, those who lost someone to cancer and those who knew someone battling it lit candles and placed them in bags around the Saddle Brook High School track. Soon, hundreds of people in this year’s “Relay for Life” were walking quietly amid this amazing light.
I passed a candle lit for my father and for my friend’s mother, Regina. I passed small groups of people who sat on the ground nearby, taking pictures or holding hands. No one said anything — it was if all you could hear were the tears.
At one point, I looked over my shoulder. The entire track was filled with candles.
This event was about so much more, though. Although it gave us time to remember, it was also a celebration of our triumphs, as well as a call to action to help one day finally eliminate cancer.
It was challenging, but it was fun.Relay For Life Co-Chairs, Denise Thorne and Mary Hartmann, left
There was the Conga Line Lap. The Birthday Lap, where everyone wore birthday hats, sang and blew horns. Somewhere around 1:30 in the morning was the Chicken Lap (don’t ask). Then the Beach Ball lap. The (blowing) Bubbles lap. The Toga Lap for the flower children, and, for a generation later, the Disco Lap.
There weren’t too many laps where I simply walked: Mostly, I danced, especially to the 2 a.m. Cinco de Mayo Lap. Not bad for someone who started the relay at 7 last night.
We had live music, including the Drums from Heaven, and a dance performance. There was also plenty of food, all donated by volunteers. The hot dog truck was a big hit: A buck for a dog — not bad. All profits are headed straight to the American Cancer Society ( ALSO SEE: Local American Cancer Society ‘Relay for Life’ ).
An artist was painting kids’ faces, but I just had to get mine done, too. Later on, I noticed that other adults were doing it, as well. At one point, more than 15 women were lined up outside the Colors by Chris tent.
The 4 a.m. Pajama Lap was immediately followed by the Coffee and Tea Lap — exactly what we needed. Although we set up our own tents and brought sleeping bags, most of us stayed up the entire night.
ALL PHOTOS: Robert J. Kugler for CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM
It started solemnly, as survivors collected shirts, gift bags, birthday cake and a birthday card handmade for each of us.
Mine was from a girl named Violet. “I’m glad you will be able to celebrate many birthdays,” the little angel wrote.
We were then introduced to the crowd, individually, by name, along with the type of cancer we each survived. I walked — no, I DANCED — next to a man in his 70s who made his way around the track with a cane. I carried a red rose given to me by my lovely daughter, Jaime, as the song “I’m Alive” played over the speakers.
Our teams then joined us and the party was officially under way.
Dawn’s light brought an end to this year’s “Relay for Life.” There was no dancing during the last turn — the Clean-Up Lap (now I know why they gave us coffee).
After the closing ceremony, we gathered to say our goodbyes — but wait.
News flash: The annual “Walking for Strides” to fight breast cancer will be in Paramus this October.
See you there?
Susan Seidman, 58, of Oak Ridge, is a customer care manager for Raymour & Flanigan Furniture in Fairfield — one of the “Relay for Life” sponsors.
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