EAST PROVIDENCE — The day’s soaring temperatures were topped only by the enthusiasm and commitment to the cause of what eventually were about 300 people who gathered Saturday, June 1, for the local edition of the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life fundraising event at Pierce Memorial Stadium.
A total of 38 teams, comprised of varying amount of members, descended upon Pierce Saturday to help raise money for the fight against cancer. This year’s event held even more meaning than usual as the American Cancer Society is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Each of the teams attempted to raise as much money as it could in the weeks and months leading up to the relay as well as the day of the event. By Sunday morning, nearly $50,000 was raised in total locally.
Among those who participated Saturday was East Providence City Councilor At-Large Tracy Capobianco.
“It means a great deal to me to personally because as I mentioned one of my best friends, Kristina Saveory, passed away for cancer several years ago this week and I am glad to be able to help raise money and awareness,” Mrs. Capobiano said.
Long before she ran for public office, Mrs. Capobianco was an annual participant in the Relay for Life. Her team, “The Dream Team” which she co-directs with city native Chris Warren, numbered 26 members. Six are cancer “survivors,” including Ms. Warren. They raised over $9,000 from their participation in the relay.
“I began participating because my co-captain Chris had formed a team in support of her sisters boyfriend who was battling cancer. I had just lost a friend to cancer that same month,” Mrs. Capobianco explained. “Several of my friends and family have had cancer, some won the battle and sadly, some have lost. This is the first year we have participated in E.P. The team she started was J.P.’s Posse and she ran it in Coventry and Cranston. I was only a supporter those years, but this year I wanted to be more involved so we decided to merge into one team.
“To give credit, I must say Chris and my mom, LuAnn Furtado, were really the planners of our team events, they attended all the meetings prior to the event. They really deserve more credit than I do. My part is getting people there and getting them to donate. As far as the organizing, they are the ones I thank.”
The “survivors” hold special significance at the event. They led off the relay, which began around 3 p.m., as a group. For the next 18 hours, at least one member of each team did laps around the Pierce Stadium track to show their dedication to the cause.
Later in the event, representatives of police and fire departments from around the area took part in the relay. The East Providence-based youth soccer organization, AYSO 715, led a section of the relay where some wore costumes.
All involved came prepared for the elements, pitching tents on the Pierce infield turf. Water was in abundant supply as temperatures approached 90 degrees. A live band and a disc jockey entertained the participants throughout the relay.
For more on the Relay for Life visit www.relayforlife.org.