In Middle Village, Curing Cancer One Step At A Time

In Middle Village, Curing Cancer One Step At A Time

For the more than 650 people who participated in the 11th annual Middle Village Relay for Life at Juniper Valley Park last weekend, there was one word that reverberated throughout the crowd as they spent an emotional two days cheering, hugging, laughing and crying: Hope.

Hope that the approximately $200,000 they raised for the American Cancer Society will help to stamp out the diseases that claims hundreds of thousands lives in the United States each year; hope that someday they will not have to say goodbye to the family and friends who bravely battle cancer; hope that future generations will ask: Cancer, what is that?

“This is a really amazing event,” said Cara Stock, 15, who two years ago was diagnosed with liposarcoma – cancer of the body’s fat cells. “You’re surrounded by so many people who care about you.”

Stock, a student at the Academy for Careers in Television and Film in Long Island City, was a member of the team Rays of Light – named in honor of her father, team captain Ray Stock, who seven years ago was diagnosed with lung cancer. Sixty teams participated in this year’s event, which drew more than 1,000 people to the park. Team members walked continually in the park from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning to raise money for research and awareness about the diseases.

The relay’s financial sponsors included Maspeth Federal Savings, the Glendale Kiwanis Club, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, and the Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union.

Maria Luppino, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2009, spoke during the opening ceremony.

“We started my team, Team Annie Says, in honor of my friend who I worked with for more than 23 years,” Luppino said of her friend who died of ovarian cancer in 2012. “She was an amazing woman woman who never lost faith, never complained.”

For Phil and Ray DeSena, brothers from Middle Village who were the co-captains of Team LAUGH, the event was about honoring their mother, cancer survivor Arlene DeSena, and family members they lost to disease: Lucy Garone, George Gardin, Ginger Szymanski, and Helen Ryan.

“We’re one of the younger teams, and we want to remind younger people that fighting cancer is something that’s so important for our future,” said Erin Kenny, 21, of Team LAUGH.

Story and Photos by Anna Gustafson


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