Town’s Spirit Shines In Relay For Life

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Members of Team “Alvin 2.0” – (from left, rear) Abby Mooney, Karenna Ng, Alexandra Tse, Maya Pockrose, Emina Hamzic, Juliette Stokes, Jackie Smith, Sowmya Yelleswarapu, (front) Grace Biondi

By: Michael Graham-Green and Patrick Gallagher

Dozens of Arlington residents circled the high school track accompanied by family and friends on Saturday, June 10, in a show of defiance against a deadly disease that has taken so many held so dear.

Arlington’s Relay For Life, one of the thousands of Relay For Life events held annually across the globe,  raises funds for the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society uses the donations collected through these events to fund cancer research and support for those diagnosed with any of the multiple types the disease.

This year, 57 teams participated in Arlington’s Relay For Life, raising a total of $114,806.46. Leading the pack, with a donation total of $28,537.48, was “Keepin’ Up With The Joneses” . Team members Clara Tully and Cade Johnston explained why the team was participating. “We’re walking for Courtney Jones, who passed away in January,” Tully said.  Johnston added, “Courtney never wanted anybody else to suffer, so we wanted to carry that on and make sure no one else has to be in pain like she was.” “Last year I walked [the Relay] with Courtney,” Tully explained, “so this year I’m walking in honor of her.”

Julia Hazen, a member of team “Up All Night for the fight!”, also told of a personal connection with the effects of cancer. “I’m participating because last year my mom had breast cancer,” she said, “and it’s just really important for me to raise money for this cause because if she didn’t have the supports and the research done by this foundation, she might not be here today.”

Members of team “Alvin 2.0” jumped at the chance to explain why they were taking part. “We are relaying to raise money for cancer research because we care about this very important cause,” said team member Maya Pockrose. Several other members of the team explained that they were participating because they had lost relatives to cancer.

Lasting from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday, Arlington’s Relay For Life touched participants with both the sorrow of loss and the joy of survival. It brought a town together in an effort to do the incredible: stop cancer.

Car wreck warns drivers

On the week of May 21, a red, totaled vehicle was placed on the front lawn of the high school. The car had two dummies that were victims of the crash, both portrayed as fatally injured as a result of not wearing their seat belts.

The Director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division, Jeff Larason said that, “Massachusetts has one of the worst seat belt use rates in the country.  We are #45.   We want people to recognize the importance of wearing their seat belts, to understand the very real dangers of driving unbelted, and to put their belts on every time they are in the car whether they are a driver or a passenger”.

The car was displayed on the front lawn of the high school because teens have a much lower rate of wearing their seat belts than adults. From this position in the front of the school,  the wrecked car is visible to anyone who passes by on Massachusetts Avenue.

Larason says, “We chose to focus on seat belt use because it’s the one thing you can do to protect yourself from other drivers.”  Larason conducted a unscientific study at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Pleasant Street in which “23% of the drivers… were not wearing their seat belts”. Larason hopes that having the mock car crash on the front lawn will help to diminish this large number.

This is the first year that the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division has displayed a vehicle. The Division has participated in the Click It or Ticket program for almost 20 years according to Larason.

This program is targeted towards teens or young adults, aiming to increase seat belt use. May is when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducts their national Click It or Ticket campaign. The car was towed to the front lawn by AAA New England and provided by the junkyard “Car Heaven” in Berlin, Massachusetts.