President Joan Bourke knew she could rely on groups in town to help when she took over the Orangetown Relay for Life this year.
She still had a nice surprise coming from her own when Mike O'Malley formed Team PRLL, which was the top fundraiser for the event as of Thursday night.
"They did it to surprise me," Bourke said. "They did it to support me."
They have plenty of company, with many groups from Pearl River and the rest of Orangetown playing a key role when hundreds of people take to the Central Avenue Field in Pearl River for the Orangetown Relay for Life from 7 p.m. tonight to 7 a.m. Saturday morning.
The Ancient Order of Hibernians will once again provide food and other assistance. Many members will help with security in the park. The field will be open to all starting at 5 p.m. this afternoon, when people can start to register in person and teams can set up for the night. But after 11 p.m., only participants in the relay will be allowed onto the field. Bourke said that Eddie O'Dea of Pearl River arranged for the security overnight.
"People don't have to register to be a walker," Bourke said. "They can come out and enjoy it as a family event. From 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., it is open to all. Only people who are registered are allowed in after 11 p.m."
The Orangetown Relay for Life raises money for the American Cancer Society and recognizes people who have dealt with cancer, either through losing a loved one, helping a survivor or battling the disease themselves. The idea is for teams to have at least one member walking the track from the start to the finish, though it is not required.
Roddy Harrington will entertain the crowd. There will also be sports-related activities for children coordinated by Ray Kondracki, a Clarkstown South High School track coach and former Pearl River Little League board member. Kondracki did the same thing last year.
"He brings in kids from his track team," Bourke said. "They run mini track and field events for the kids to keep them occupied."
The event begins with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. The participating teams will be announced. They can be found at the Orangetown Relay for Life website www.relayforlife.org/orangetownny. The site includes more information on the event and a place for those still looking to register or donate to an existing team.
The actual relay starts with a survivor's lap, with those who have been diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives taking to the track. The Relay for Life treats survivors as "honored guests."
"Survivors don't pay to register," Bourke said. "They get a sash and a different colored shirt. They walk first and there is dinner for them."
in Pearl River is providing food for the survivor's tent. The Orangetown Mighty Midgets are coordinating the registration for survivors.
Local groups also donated items for a raffle. Tickets cost $5 each or five for $20. There will be tickets to Yankees and Mets games. Pearl River Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Hardy donated two tickets to the see The Lion King, with his company, KLS Transportation Services, providing a limo ride to and from the show.
Among the local groups with teams registered are the Brest Buddies, Girl Scouts of Pearl River, Pearl River High School cross country team, the , Pearl River High School's YMCA Youth & Government and .
The event was first brought to Pearl River by Rockland County Legislator John Murphy (R-Pearl River). He and his wife Eileen, a member of the Brest Buddies, were the co-chairs the first two years of the relay.
Once again, Team Carolyn looks like it will be the largest in the Relay for Life. It is among the top fundraising teams going into the event along with Team PRLL and ALL FOR JOHN.
The top individual fundraiser as of Thursday night was Noel O'Connell of Pearl River. To read his story, click here.
The teams and captains as of Thursday night were as follows:
- All For John (Linda Mahler-Castellano)
- Andy's Walk On (Noel O'Connell)
- Brest Buddies (Eileen Murphy)
- Bronx Bombers (Denis Troy)
- Girl Scouts of Pearl River (Caroline Reichert)
- Helen's Hope (Helen Wilson)
- High Hopes (Sue Hlawatsch)
- Kicking for a Cure OMM Soccer/WCFC/Buddyball (Kerry Beckmann)
- Nanuet YAC (Sam Fein)
- Pearl River Cross Country (Caitlin Lardaro)
- Pearl River United Methodist Church "Team PRUMC" (Kathy Rose)
- Raising Hope (Nora Reilly)
- Team Carolyn (Jeanne Sullivan)
- Team Mel and Stu (Ryan Buncher)
- Team Memorial (Carole Cass)
- Team Nicole (Danielle Murray)
- Team PRLL (Mike O'Malley)
- The MOB (Joan Bourke)
- YMCA Youth & Gov't - Pearl River HS (Charles Maze)
Luminaria candles are also available for purchase at the Relay for Life website and can be bought at the event Friday. They cost $10. The candles are meant to honor a friend or loved one who has been touched by caner. They will be placed around the track and lit as the sun goes down Friday.