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Experiencing the first virtual Relay for Life of Baldwin

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The coronavirus pandemic wasn’t stopping a group of people set out to make a difference. The Relay for Life of Baldwin took place on Aug. 22, but this time, virtually.

The Baldwin community raised a total of $12,708.53.

Baldwin residents Abby and Miguel Melendez, who are both cancer survivors and volunteers for the American Cancer Society, put together the event with Chelsea Whitney, their American Cancer Society community development manager.

Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser. Relay For Life events have raised almost $5 billion to date, according to Gannett, and almost 4 million people take part in Relay events in more than 5,000 communities across the country.

Teams are typically formed by individuals in local communities who walk around a track to raise funds to support the organization’s mission, including increasing cancer survival and improving the quality of life for cancer patients.

The virtual Relay for Life opened with Whitney giving a rundown of what to expect. Two Baldwin residents, Sheree Lindsay and Grace Nazario, provided their renditions of the Star Spangled Banner. 

That was followed by the Survivor Speaker, Jennifer Scarduzio, who shared her experiences as a recent breast cancer survivor. Yvonne Salerno provided a rendition of “Fight Song” as a montage of survivor and caregiver photos were shown.

Then the Melendezes provided a mission statement and shared their involvement with ACS over the years, as well as their own cancer stories. They have volunteered with ACS, worked as spokespeople and Miguel helps with the Road to Recovery program, which works to provide transportation to and from treatment for people who are unable to drive themselves or need a ride.

The sponsors were then thanked, including Apex Adjustment, Kitty O’Haras, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Costello’s Ace Hardware, Grandview Auto Body, Sonny’s Canal House and Painting with a Twist!

A slideshow showing the Baldwin Relay throughout the years was followed by acknowledging caregivers, organizers said.

Lastly, a video and photo montage of the Remembrance/Luminaria Ceremony was featured. This was accompanied by a performance of a string piece by Baldwin High Schoolers Gabby Dones and  Sierra Wojtczack.

Scarduzio was acknowledged as the “Top Participant.”

To view the Virtual Relay for Life of Baldwin recording, visit facebook.com/BaldwinRelay/videos/743450346226996/ or visit Relay for Life of Baldwin, NY Facebook Page.