RYE, N.Y. - Residents from Rye and other area municipalities spent the night at Rye Town Park Friday as part of the area's first Relay for Life Celebration . The overnight fundraiser is the largest cancer fundraiser in the nation and aims to both honor and celebrate the lives of loved ones touched by cancer.
The event divides participants into fundraising teams, and derives its name from the track or path that participants walk to show perseverance. At least one member from each fundraising team must be walking the track from when the event begins at 7 p.m. and ends at 7 a.m.
"It's an overnight walk that people do because it's difficult," said event co-chair Jeff Miller. "People do it to understand that difficult things can be done. To know that when you want to beat something, you can."
The more than 110 participants spent the night and wee hours of the morning remembering, celebrating and, most importantly, walking.
Top fundraiser and first-time Relay participant Nina Inamdar, who's team "Bob-a-dears" raised almost $8,000 for the event, said the event is more than just a fundraiser.
"It's not just the raising of the funds, we are building camaraderie and community," Inamdar, a 10-year Rye resident, said. "We are coming together for this 12-hour relay; we are bonding together over this."
Inamdar said one of the most rewarding aspects of the event is hearing the story behind each team. One of those stories belongs to retiring Osborn School Principal Clarita Zeppie, who lost her husband to cancer.
Zeppie said when she first heard about the event, she looked to get involved right away. After sending out an email to the teachers at Osborn asking for donations and support, Zeppie was overwhelmed with the response. More than 20 Osborn school teachers pledged their support to Zeppie's team, "Throw a Brick at Cancer."
Zeppie also got support from her students, who earlier in the week performed a ceremonial lap around the playground culminating with each student placing a dollar in a jar to go toward Zeppie's team.
"I know they really wanted to do this for me, and it means so much to me," Zeppie said. "It's such a nice feeling, I just feel so loved. I couldn't ask for a better send off."
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