The Show Must Go On: Hills Virtual Relay for Life Starts Today


By Kyla Gallipoli, Senior Social Media Editor

Every year, many students from Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley look forward to the town’s annual Relay for Life event. This year, the date had been set for Saturday, May 16th, but in light of the current circumstances, an in-person event became no longer possible. Instead, high school and college Event Leads across the country had to find some way to continue their fight against cancer. It was time to get creative with a new way to Relay. 

Senior Sydney Rodis has attended Relay for Life for the past three years. Like many other students, she was disappointed that there would not be a physical event this year. 

“Relay reminds us that cancer ‘never sleeps’, and shows us that people come together in a time of need,” Rodis said.  “You are only able to survive staying awake the entire night with the support of your community and friends, which is something that will be greatly missed this year.” 

Relay for Life honors cancer survivors, remembers loved ones lost, and reminds participants of the many ways they can fight back against cancer. It is a fundraising event through the American Cancer Society. The money raised helps fund research, find cures, support patients with free lodging near hospitals, free rides to treatment, and a live 24/7 cancer helpline. 

Aside from funding research & helping patients, the money fundraised is also currently going toward providing health care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight with free housing at “Hope Lodge” facilities across the country. The ongoing pandemic affects cancer patients, as they are seeing their treatment plans change. As some of the most vulnerable people, they may have a higher risk of infection because of changes in their immune systems while undergoing treatment. They need our help now more than ever.

Unable to have an event, Wayne’s Event chairs, Louis Messercola, Kyla Gallipoli, Bridget Gonzalez, Julia LaSala, and Leah Caruso, decided on planning a Virtual Relay week. This five-day celebration starts Tuesday, May 12th, and lasts until Saturday, May 16th. In order to keep the ideas of Relay alive, different days throughout the week symbolize various aspects of the event. 

Later today, Relay for Life will kick off with an Opening Ceremony video premiering on YouTube at 4:00p pm. This video, around 15 minutes in length, will feature speeches from the five student chairs and their representative from the American Cancer Society who oversees the Wayne event every year. It also includes appearances from some special guests like NJ-11 House of Representative, Mikie Sherrill, All American actor Kareem Grimes, and Jade Glab, Miss New Jersey. To access the Opening Ceremony video, visit

Wednesday is the “Join the Wave” day, where participants are encouraged to get outside and get active. While students cannot gather at the Wayne Valley track this year, this day represents the aspect of Relay focused around walking laps. Additionally, through social media, all participants are encouraged to with the ways they are staying active. Some have opted into partaking in different challenges, like walking a mile in a cancer survivor’s name, or running a mile for every $10 someone donates to their page. The idea is to combine the fundraising and fitness components of Relay.  

Thursday is Survivor day, recognizing and celebrating all cancer survivors. Survivors are one of the reasons we Relay. Their strides do not go unnoticed, and they are examples of strength and perseverance. 

Friday is the Luminaria day, which pays tribute to loved ones lost and all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. It is a chance to celebrate and remember everyone who has lost their battle. Instead of circling the track with Luminaria bags, participants will be illuminating their social media accounts with photos of their decorated bags or with an online template. Bags are still available upon purchase by contacting @RFLWayne on Instagram, where they can be delivered to homes in a social-distancing style. 

The Virtual Relay for Life week wraps up on Youtube on Saturday at 2:00 pm, with a video from participants, team captains, and committee members reflecting on “Why We Relay”. This is also where the Event Leads will announce the total amount of money raised this week, and recognize the top fundraising individuals and teams. 

For more information, visit their website at