Relay for Life of Marlborough/Hudson slated for June 18

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Relay for Life of Marlborough/Hudson begins with cancer survivors and caregivers walking a lap around Ward Park.
Last year’s Relay for Life of Marlborough/Hudson begins with cancer survivors and caregivers walking a lap around Ward Park. (Photo/Ed Karvoski Jr.)

MARLBOROUGH/HUDSON – An annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society is returning to the area this month with some longtime customs that were missing in recent years.

The Relay for Life of Marlborough/Hudson is slated for Saturday, June 18 from noon to 10 p.m. at Marlborough’s Ward Park. Monetary donations are given by teams of walkers and individuals.

This fundraiser was traditionally a 12-hour overnight event until COVID-19 hit in 2020, prompting that year’s Marlborough/Hudson relay to take place virtually. An in-person relay returned locally last year as a six-hour event and will run for 10 hours this year. 

“We’re trying to gradually get back to what the relay was pre-COVID,” event chair Marcia Place explained.

Acknowledging cancer survivors

Scheduled to speak at the opening ceremony is cancer survivor Nao Ishibashi, a Zumba instructor at Hudson’s Crunch Fitness. 

Relay committee member Nancy Dalbec began taking this Zumba class soon after Ishibashi recovered from surgery.

“Nao’s ability to return to teaching Zumba is what kept her going on the path to recovering quickly,” Dalbec noted.

The relay will start with a survivors lap. Place will walk in this lap as a cancer survivor herself.

“For me, it’s very emotional, but it’s also very inspiring,” she said of the survivors lap. “Team members line up around the track, cheering survivors on and acknowledging their battle.”

The Marlborough/Hudson relay now also includes caregivers in this first lap.

“We feel that a large part of why the survivor is a survivor is because of their caregivers,” Place explained.

Relay relies on volunteers

Dedicated volunteers entertain the walkers between laps.

“We love people who know the routine and are committed to the event,” Place said of the reliable volunteers. “They often contact us before we contact them.” 

Steve Woodward is once again volunteering as deejay. Recently, this benefitting charity has become even dearer to his heart.

“Last year, Steve and his wife each lost a parent to cancer,” Place noted. 

Also returning is Mary Dragon with interactive line-dancing instruction.

“Mary gets everyone out there to do those line-dance routines,” Place recounted. 

Live music will be brought to the relay by the pop/punk band Color Killer and the 1980s/’90s cover band Sunset Strippers. Additionally, Ishibashi will lead a Zumba session.

Remembering with luminarias 

Another relay custom is the remembrance lap alongside illuminated luminaria bags. Participants create luminarias to honor loved ones affected by cancer.

The visual effect of glowing luminarias wasn’t experienced at last year’s Marlborough/Hudson relay because the event ended before dusk. Lighted luminarias are returning after dusk this year, though. 

“The luminaria lap brings back a lot of memories,” said Place, whose mother died of cancer. “It’s key that people remember why we’re fighting hard to try to eliminate this awful disease.”

General public invited

Participants can register on the day the walk onsite as an individual or team. Refreshments and raffles will be available.

“We encourage everybody to attend,” Place said. “You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who haven’t been touched by cancer in some way. This is a good format to start mingling again in an open environment.”

Find relay updates at relayforlife.org/marlborohudsonma and facebook.com/RFLMarlboroughHudson.

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