Why Relay?

Everyone’s reason to Relay is as unique as their own personal story. At Relay, participants find healing, comfort and support from others who have faced cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease. Every person who shares the Relay experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of loved ones.

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Team Blondin“I Relay because I believe the difference we make together is far greater than what any one of us could do alone. I walk to remember those that have lost their battle. I walk to celebrate those that I am so proud to call survivors, especially my Uncle Donnie. Mostly I walk to fight back against a disease that takes way too much from all of us.”

Tassie Blondin, of Essex, is the team captain of Team Blondin. Blondin has been a Relay participant for 10 years.

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Marilyn Morin Roberts“I have survived cancer now for 62 years. I had Retinoblastoma at the age of 3 and am now 65. I never participated in anything like this before because everyone thinks of survivors as brave, making hard choices, etc. I was 3. I made no hard choices back then. I felt I didn’t deserve any recognition for surviving something I don’t remember battling. However, the choice became very hard when I grew up, was told my particular form of cancer was genetic and I had to make a choice to have my own children, knowing they would have the same genes and choices to make, and may lose the sight in one or both eyes. My husband and I chose to adopt. I also had to wait until I was about 50-years-old to be reassured that I was past the point of any reoccurrence.

Now, I can celebrate!

But in the past few years, I have lost too many friends to cancer, taking away my celebratory feelings. Time for me to Relay, to raise money, to celebrate my survival, to encourage others.”

Marilyn Morin Roberts, of Colchester, is a survivor and member of team Hoofin’ it for Hope. Roberts is a first-year Relay participant this year.

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“Twenty years ago on June 17, 1993 I heard the words you have cancer. I was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins lymphoma, which was the kind of cancer that my grandmother had passed away from. I was also 17 weeks pregnant with my third child. Many people in my family unfortunately have been diagnosed with cancer so I was familiar with what I would be facing. After much debate — there was no research available for us to look at — we decided to start chemotherapy while I was pregnant. I am happy to say that I am cancer-free and my son just finished his freshman year of college. I Relay so that others will be able to have research available to them to make decisions as well as so that my children do not ever have to hear those words.”

Tracy DeVarney, of South Burlington, is a survivor and member of team Never Walk Alone. DeVarney has been a Relay participant for 15 years.

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“Cancer is all around us, either through our own personal battle or through someone you love. In March 2012, I lost my sister and best friend Candy to the disease. She had fought breast cancer for six years and been considered a survivor. The entire family felt secure in that she had won the battle. She was diagnosed with another cancer; this time in her lungs it took her life in a matter of months. Candy was a beautiful person who loved life.

Not a day passes that I do not think about her and how she touched lives. Life is sometimes short. Live it like there is no tomorrow!”

Robin Russell, of Fairfax, is a member of team Crazy Mama. Russell has been a Relay participant for two years

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“I want to do my small part against cancer.”

Bettie Cassidy, of Addison, is a member of Team Blicaskano. Cassidy has been a Relay participant for two years.

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Tina Cassidy“I Relay because so many people have to go through this in their life, it’s just not fair! So I Relay because I want to help fight cancer anyway I can. I have had friends/family and even a family pet that has had cancer and I want them to know I am on their side to help them with anything they need and walk all night because Cancer never sleeps.”

Tina Cassidy, of Colchester, is a co-captain of Team Blicaskano. Cassity has been a Relay participant for three years.

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“I Relay because cancer affects the lives of people in so many ways. I have lost too many loved ones in my lifetime to cancer and it’s a nice way to help find a cure. It would be nice to not see people suffer with this disease anymore and have to experience the pain that it causes.”

Sarah Bissonnette, of Essex Junction, is a member of Team Blicaskano. Bissonnette has been a Relay participant for two years.

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“I Relay to help make a difference with research in finding a cure for the ugly disease called cancer. I Relay for my dad and other family members that have lost their battle with cancer. I Relay to honor my partner and other family members that have fought and beaten cancer. I Relay to support my cousin who is battling breast cancer. I Relay because it makes me feel good and I can help make a difference.”

Kelly Bliss, of Essex, is a caregiver and a member of Team Blicaskano. Bliss has been a Relay participant for four years.

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“I decided to walk at Relay for a wide variety of reasons. Like most people I walk for my family, especially my children. May there be a cure found before they have to encounter any situation with this horrible disease. One big reason I decided to walk is because in 2011 I had the opportunity to volunteer at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta and the experience was eye-opening and inspiring. The children I met during my time there made my world shine a little brighter. Their smiles are contagious and they truly are an inspiration. I walk for them, their parents and their families. I walk to find a cure.”

Jennie Laliberte, of Essex Junction, is a walker, supporter and member of team MoveOverCancer. Laliberte is a first-year Relay participant this year.

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RaeAnn Couture“I began to Relay in honor of my aunts who had breast cancer and my brother who had a brain tumor. I then had a personal experience being diagnosed with Uterine adenocarcinoma in 2011. I am currently two years in remission. I Relay for my family, my friends and those that cannot attend Relay themselves but join us in spirit to help create a world with many more birthdays for all!”

RaeAnn Couture, of Bolton, is a survivor and team captain for Are we there yet? Couture has been a Relay participant for 11 years.

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“Four years ago I started my own team Moo Gong Kicks Cancer. One of the reasons I Relay is that I lost both my father and grandfather to cancer. I was 9 years old when my father died from lung cancer. Growing up without a father was horrible. Losing a family member to cancer who ever they are should not happen. If walking in Relay can raise enough money or even just awareness about cancer I will do it.

I believe life is about what you can do not what you can’t. I am very proud to wear my purple.”

Cy Chapman, of Burlington, is a survivor, who has been in remission for 13 years, and member of Moo Gong Kicks Cancer. Chapman has been a Relay participant for eight years.

Moo Gong Do

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“It is so moving for me to be a part of such an amazing event where people work together and for a moment drop the troubles of their lives to help others. I know some people who are survivors or who have passed due to cancer and I like to celebrate all of their lives. I simply love being in the midst of all of the caring individuals at relay. It really is magical!”

Sara St. Gelais, of Fairfax, is a volunteer and member of The RehabGYM team. Gelais has been a Relay participant for seven years.

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Relay_1“We relay in memory of a special 11-year-old girl named Sarah Pidgeon, who passed away from Osteosarcoma on May 14, 2008. Sarah was a fighter until the end, and we are proud to be her family members and her friends who Relay in her memory each year.”

Amy Bigelow and Claire Kelly, of Essex Junction, are members of team Purple ‘n Proud. They have been Relay participants for six years.

“A close friend passed away this year.”

Eric Flegenheimer, of Williston, is a member of team Grateful Shedders. Flegenheimer is a first-year participant of Relay this year.

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“I began participating in the Relay for Life three years ago after my father passed away from a brief but courageous battle with oral cancer. He died in February. June of that same year I was walking the track for the first time as Team Captain for Team Bright Side. I started doing Relay as a desperate attempt to make something positive come out of something so negative; hence the name Team Bright Side. I have continued to participate in this event for all those who continue to struggle and fight to battle cancer, and for those that lost the battle to cancer. I do it for hope. I do it for Dad. I miss you every day.”

Emily Ide, of Jericho, is a member of Team Bright Side. Ide has been a Relay participant for three years.

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Jessica Denton“My best friend formed a team for her sister, Stefanie, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003. She was 35, a wife, and a mother of two young daughters.  We were ‘Stefanie’s Supporters.’

Five years later, Stefanie’s journey ended but the team has not.  While no Relay has ever been the same, we are grateful it was her that brought us all to Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society.

Our family team name, “Stand Together” is so much more than a name, but a call out to the many who are touched by cancer.  May we all stand together as we join our energy and our passion to create hope, provide research and celebrate the many who are impacted by this disease.”

Jessica Denton is a team member of Stand Together. Denton has been a Relay participant for 10 years.