Volunteers make it rain love at Relay for Life

Bad weather doesn’t dampen passion of those raising money for cancer research

By Steven Silverman, Correspondent, The Times

Cancer survivors are applauded by volunteers during the Kennett/Unionville Relay For Life, Saturday.

Cancer survivors are applauded by volunteers during the Kennett/Unionville Relay For Life, Friday.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — Hundreds gathered last Friday night and Saturday morning at Unionville High School to support the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

The event had been planned for the Unionville Stadium track, but with heavy rain all Friday predicted to continue into the night, organizers moved the entire proceedings inside. Participants completed laps around the high school gymnasium in honor and memory of those they know who have been affected by cancer.

The evening began with former mayor and current Kennett Square Borough Council Leon Spencer delivering a touching speech about how butterflies are metaphors for human life. He went on to say that he was a butterfly because he stepped out of his comfort zone every day (as butterflies emerge from their chrysalises) and that we all should strive to emulate such beautiful insects. The walking then began with the Cancer Survivor Lap, when a group of about a dozen survivors circled the gym to thunderous applause before being joined by the rest of the participants.

Kennett Square Council member Leon Spencer

Kennett Square Council member Leon Spencer uses butterflies to make a point about stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, during the opening ceremonies for Relay For Life.

With music being pumped through the gym speakers and live groups performing out in the lobby, the night was just underway.

Mike Zieg, the chair of the event, spoke passionately about how his family has been affected by cancer and how the personal connections are “why we do it [Relay]. The students from Kennett and Unionville have been really engaged, and it’s impressive how [they] rallied to make a difference.”

The entire crowd then gathered in the gym for the Luminaria ceremony, in which the bags people had designed and dedicated to their loved ones lined the track and were lit from the inside with candles. With the lights down, everyone took two silent laps in remembrance and hope.


Relay For Life volunteers were able to cap their all-nighters with a warm breakfast, courtesy the annual Unionville-Kennett Community Breakfast, served by staff of both school districts, Saturday morning.

All in all, the event raised $39,029.89 with 29 teams and a total of 277 participants.

Graduated UHS senior Jackie Xu, the student committee leader,said she was excited that more students participated this year.

“It’s great to see more young faces,” she said. “[The Relay] brings the whole community together, and hopefully there will be more and more students each year.

After walking through the night, participants were greeted with the Unionville/Kennett Community Breakfast on Saturday morning, with food served by various administrative and staff members of the Unionville-Chadds Ford and Kennett Consolidated School Districts.

The festive atmosphere (helped by the rapidly improving weather) capped what is becoming one of the signature community events in the area.

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