Relay For Life of Stoneham is awarded #1 New Community Relay in New England
Relay For Life of Stoneham is awarded #1 New Community Relay in New England by the American Cancer Society
Hello, my name is Maureen McGinness and I am the Event Chair for The Relay For Life of Stoneham. I want to take this opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and thank so many wonderful people for their contribution to this event. More importantly, I want to say I look forward to seeing you all again at our Relay for Life of Stoneham 2013!
It seems like forever since June 23rd, 2012 when we held our very first Relay for Life. As a first year Relay we had a revenue goal of $50,000, 35 teams, and 15 cancer survivors. It sounded like a good goal, but I must admit I was a bit nervous in the beginning. Well, let me tell you something Stoneham– “YOU DID IT”! Your commitment, planning, fundraising and support of our first Relay landed us two awards from the American Cancer Society.
First, the #1 New Community Relay of New England – YES, that’s right - New England, not Middlesex County, not Massachusetts – New England!! We raised over $110,000. Our second award was for “Most Survivors at a New Relay” – we had over 45. What an accomplishment Stoneham! Truly a small town with a big heart!
We recently received these awards at the Relay for Life Summit hosted by the American Cancer Society in Springfield, MA. This overnight event provides training, education, networking and fun opportunities to find out what other Relays have found to be successful strategies to meet their goals.
I want to thank members of the Relay Committee members [Jack Bernard, Kathleen Capua, Suzanne MacWhinnie, Trish Storella], my personal friends and family who sacrificed quite a bit to make this event a reality. Without these people our Relay just would not have been the success it was.
I would like to thank all of those who participated in our Relay for Life event held at the Stoneham High School. Whether you were a committee member, team captain, team member, volunteer, local official, donator, or a community guest YOU should be proud of what we accomplished.
Off to a good start
Thank you to my friends Paul and Sheila Ryder who gave Jeanne Craigie a call to let her know a little bit about me and the event I was hoping to plan. Thank you to Jeanne who championed our use of the field, bathrooms and Janitorial support. She was instrumental in coordinating the effort with Dave Pignone, Les Olsen and Donna Cargill to allow us to use the gymnasium for our opening ceremony and serve dinner to our survivors in the cafeteria. She supported me from start to finish the day of Relay. Thank you Jeanne, your help and support means more than I can ever say....
Dr. Les Olsen and the School Committee – Thank you for your approval and support through-out the Relay planning process. Thank you for allowing us to get the word out to our community via the school systems email address book. Thank you for taking a chance on this worthy community event.
Dave Pignone – We have been talking about this for over three years. You simply said “Maureen, let me know when you are ready and I will do everything I can to help you.” You did that and more with your trusty side-kick Kevin Yianacopolus; who got to deal with me quite a bit post Relay on missing items, items to return and more! Thank you! Your calm, humorous approach to everything that came up kept during the night kept me calm through-out!
What an amazing young man
Thank you to DJ Buono who had to load, unload and reload his equipment several times over. The young man who was there with an encouraging word, thumbs up, good job or a hug! Near the end of the night he connected with me on the track and said "I'm in for next year, this was awesome. I’ll do it every year.” This young man just "DID"! He asked permission when necessary, but made the right decisions at the right time, without hesitation. Thank you DJ Buono!
Theresa Shannon, Cheryl Kozlowski, Sheila Ryder, Jean Levitt – Registration Heroes
These lovely ladies were scheduled to help run registration from 2:30-4:30. They surpassed all expectations and worked diligently to 8:00pm. They handled the difficult, confusing and sometimes overwhelming task of registration. They persevered through break-down and set-up three times, long lines of anxious, and sometimes confused Relayers, not to mention how many containers of coins they were handed (LOL!). THEY ARE AMAZING!! I love them and sincerely in my heart will always be in awe of what they gave of themselves to our event in support of me. To their husbands who stepped in when I needed them as well (Joe Shannon & Bob Kozlowski on security and safety, and Bill Leavitt for being the “lone ranger” front door security.)
Kathy Hudson and her Daughter Sara - Relay Heroes
Kathy Hudson, the one woman show, who just said to me with a smile, "whatever you need me to do Maureen.” She directed traffic, stood guard outside the door, organized delivery of waters, picked up trash and more. When our Survivor Dinner was moved to the cafeteria Kathy and Sara were the first ones there. I don't know how to thank someone who was supposed to leave at 5:15pm to attend a family function, but decided to stay to 9:30pm. I could have cried I was so thankful to her. She stepped in and stepped up without being asked, she just did - I'm forever indebted to her.
Team Montvale Magic
I loved seeing Peg and family from in the corner selling popcorn all night. I met Peg’s son – who walked the track almost all night in honor of his Mom who recently finished cancer treatment. What an amazing and committed family who persevered through-out the whole night. At one point I had to give Peg a hug and let her know that I admired her. That is one of my special Relay moments.
Someone else’s trash is someone else’s responsibilities
When you assign people as sanitation engineers to your Relay, it’s quite often met with vehement disdain (LOL!) Not our Relay. Two of the most charming men I know, Tom Norton and Jimmy Thain, headed up bathroom, porta-potty and trash patrol; along with their trusty side-kicks Tommy Norton and Danny Sweet. This fine team kept our Relay clean through-out the event and restored it back to pre-Relay condition. They did it with smiles and sincerity. A special shout out to Danny Sweet and Tommy Norton for being so responsible with high school property - at one point they were dumpster diving to compact the trash we generated to make more room.
Prize table extraordinaires
Thank you Therese Perkins, Stephanie Winston, Andrew Winston, and Kail Winston – their tireless commitment contributed to our Prize Drawing success. Our prize table raised over $2,000 towards our overall goal. These volunteers were assigned a two hour shift but worked for over eight hours. They setup the tables and prizes, they tried to hold down the fort during the monsoon, emptied water from gifts, dried raffle tickets, and made new ticket buckets as we stayed open later into the evening. I continue to ask myself how I can ever thank these people for what they did and I guess this will have to do; From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!
Thank you - when mayhem sets in.
When mayhem sets in, I guess you just hope and rely on other people to roll with the punches. I have to say a special thank to Deidre Burke from Stoneham Theatre, our National Anthem singer, who just showed up in the monsoon and waited until we were ready for her. Also thank you to Frank Vallarelli, who was on my personal meet and greet list, but whom also just showed up and waited until I was ready for him. Thank you so much to both of you for being there and going with the flow when things were not going as planned and delayed over an hour.
Thank you to Randy Perillo, who early on met with me and gave me lots of contacts and introductions around the community. Thank you to Maureen Canova and the Senior Center for being gracious hosts for many of our meetings. Thank you to the Stoneham Police Department for use of your multi-media room (who knew, we had such a state of the art auditorium). Thank you to Gaetano’s for sponsoring our Survivor dinner. Thank you to our local businesses for the sponsorship and support.
Special Thanks to Hallmark Health & Stoneham Little League as biggest sponsors, Lauren Guest (Zumba), Dorthea (Chakra belly dancing), Deacon Frank from St. Pat’s, Stoneham High School Student Council/Peer Leaders for Luminaria, Stoneham TV, Stoneham Youth Sports, Oro Salon and The Way Massage Therapy. You all made this event special and all persevered through the hot sun, the downpour and then a perfect evening.
Thank you to our top 3 rockstar fundraising teams; Julie's Angels, Moving for Miracles and Central Connection.
Lesley Fawcett - Our American Cancer Society trusted partner and friend
I want to extend my greatest gratitude to Lesley Fawcett. Lesley is a joy to work with. She is mature and wise beyond her years. She is a professional, considerate, kind and loving person. I am glad to call her my partner and friend.
And as I close my red carpet speech (LOL!) – I have to thank my husband Jimmy Thain, for believing in me in continuously saying “We need to do an event in Stoneham”. To my children Sarah, Jake and Jonathan, who gave up their house, home cooked dinners and my time and attention, while I planned for Relay. Thank you to my very dear friends who were also committee members. These ladies were at my house until the wee hours of the morning many times over; Jennifer Smith, Karen Bieren, and Diane Norton. Each of you is a rock in my mountain of support.
THANK YOU to everyone who I forgot to thank in this letter – you are all sincerely my heroes!
In memory of Lena Crowley – thank you for your inspiration, love and support through the planning process and lastly to my mom, Kay McGinness, my guardian Angel – We did it!!!
See you next year Stoneham.