American Cancer Society – Newport News Relay for Life: The race ends at the cure

American Cancer Society volunteers (left to right): Jeanne Laurent, Dianne Howard (event lead), Tye Lambert (community development lead), Karen Jarvis (survivor lead), Margaret Tank and Hope Churchill at the Canon Boulevard office. Photo by Cathy Welch.

The Newport News community continues to stand strong and forge on in the fight against cancer.

Residents have a passionate heart when it comes to fighting the disease, says Tye Lambert, American Cancer Society community development manager. Last year, the Newport News chapter raised about $270,500. The local division of Relay for Life began in 1994 and has raised millions of dollars.

“All the Relay for Life volunteers raised that money through sponsorships and fundraisers hosted by teams and individuals,” Lambert says. “They’ve held bowling events, golf events—anything to raise money. And they do them all year. There have been bake sales, car washes, anything you can think of, so that someday we will have a cure.”

The actual “relay” part of Relay for Life is just one component.

“A lot of people think we raise all the money on race day,” Lambert adds, “but we raise it all year. Many people also think Relay is just a race, but it’s a walk, although you can run if you want. We also have games, entertainment, bounce houses, face painting and bands. It’s really more of an event.”

The best part about working for Relay is getting to know the volunteers, Lambert says.

The event leadership team consists of about 12 people who meet every month. They come up with strategies for how to get the community more involved, how to recruit more teams and how to raise money. There are volunteers who help with the many logistical aspects of holding a large event and volunteers who help with an assortment of preparation tasks, such as rolling T-shirts and sending out mailers.

“Interacting with the volunteers everyday and seeing everything they do is overwhelming,” Lambert says. “A lot of the volunteers use this as a way to heal through their own pain.”

Lambert adds that she is thankful to the American Cancer Society for giving people a tangible way to fight cancer. Both of her parents are cancer survivors.

“The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer,” says Domenick Casuccio, director of communications for the American Cancer Society’s Southeast region. “From research to education, prevention to diagnosis and treatment to recovery, the society provides support to everyone impacted by cancer. Together with millions of supporters, we empower communities worldwide to join us.”

The American Cancer Society currently funds more than $388 million in cancer research grants nationwide, according to Casuccio. Through these grants, they are investing in research to uncover strategies for more effective diagnosis, new treatments, new options for patients who do not respond to or become resistant to existing strategies.

“We have a successful track record of identifying the brightest early-career investigators with the most promising ideas, across a range of disciplines,” Casuccio says. “We have funded 47 researchers who received a Nobel Prize.”

Lambert hopes that others in the community will get involved with the Newport News Relay for Life and join the team of powerhouse individuals currently involved.

“There’s nothing like working with our volunteers,” she says. “They work so hard. They might be losing their hair, eyebrows, lashes and weight, but they’re still fundraising nonstop to find that cure and treatment, even if it won’t be for them. Sometimes they get a diagnosis that isn’t good but they beat the odds. But there are times when people lose the fight, and that pushes us to work even harder.”

The volunteers’ unwavering dedication inspires Lambert to give her job
her full effort all the time, she says, adding, “I have never seen any volunteers like the American Cancer Society volunteers.”

American Cancer Society
Address: 11836 Canon Blvd., Ste. A102, Newport News, VA 23606
Phone: 757-591-8330
Contact: Tye Lambert
Business: Charitable organization

About Sally Grace Holtgrieve 6 Articles
Sally Grace Holtgrieve is a full-time freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. Growing up, Sally Grace always checked out the maximum number of library books permitted. One week she would read everything on phytoplankton, and the next it would be Pakistan, Panama or veterinary science. When she got to college, she found it absurd that she was required to choose which subject was the most interesting, so she pursued a career in journalism. Now she learns new things every day and actually gets paid to ask too many questions. When she’s not writing, Sally Grace prefers to be traveling. Recently she went on a trip to Provence, France and on another to Big Bend National Park, Texas. She loved both because they were new and different. In fact, she likes everywhere as long as she’s never been there before.

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