YORKTOWN, N.Y. – To many, Relay for Life feels like a Yorktown tradition steeped in history. In actuality the annual cancer walk only came to town in 2006.
That year, 21 teams helped raised $64,000 for the American Cancer Society. Now in its eighth year, Yorktown’s Relay for Life is one of the top-fundraising towns in the New York/New Jersey area and is coming off a two-year stretch of raising more than $500,000.
The 2013 Relay for Life season officially begins with a Feb. 5 kick-off party at the Elks Lodge, and Co-Chair Jane McCarthy would not be surprised if Yorktown continued to build on its success.
"We want this to be our biggest year ever," McCarthy said. "We're going for $300,000. We're dreaming big, relaying big and hoping and saying 'why not?'"
The theme for 2013's Relay For Life is "There's No Place Like Yorktown." The phrase was uttered by a Relay official last year when a rainbow emerged from a cloudy sky just as the walk was about to begin.
"It's all going to be about Wizard of Oz and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow,'" McCarthy said. "It's a lot of fun."
Relay for Life will return to Jack DeVito Memorial Field from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on June 14. The relay consists of walking teams that raise money by selling goods or services, holding fundraisers or receiving donations. For the entire event, each participating team has at least one member walking on the track.
The event begins with a lap reserved for cancer survivors and their caregivers. As the sun sets, the track is lit up the with the traditional Luminaria Ceremony, which is marked with hundreds of glowing bags bearing the names of people affected by cancer.
The event will unfortunately be without a familiar face this year, as emcee Randy Zapakin was tragically killed when he was struck by a car in November.
A team called Randy's Relayers has been created in Zapakin's memory and has already surpassed its donation goal of $5,000.
"It's a great tribute to him, but it's sad when we see that number," McCarthy. "He was such an important part of our relay that it's great to know that he's going to be remembered."