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'People end up getting hooked'

Stearns proud of Relay of Life service

The Relay For Life team, “The Hedgehogs,” has raised the most money of any Southbridge Relay team in the past few years. The Hedgehogs have helped the Southbridge Relay place in the top 25 in New England last year. They also were in the top 10 per capita throughout the entire country. (click for larger version)
April 26, 2011
SOUTHBRIDGE — The Southbridge Relay For Life has come a long way.

The Relay, now in its 14th year, started in Southbridge in 1998. Teams are formed and each team member is responsible for raising money for cancer research. The Relay, which is held at McMahon Field at Southbridge High School, takes place on Friday, June 17 and goes into the 18.

Although each Relay across the country is unique in how it is run, the general idea for all Relays is that team members take turns walking around a track all night long with their pledge to end cancer while the rest of their team takes turns resting or sleeping inside tents.

"When I was working for the American Cancer Society, this area was known as the South Central Unit," said Lou Demauro, who helped bring the Relay to Southbridge. "We had one Relay in the unit in West Brookfield. It didn't do too well. We had it there for two years. We looked around for places to have it and someone finally convinced me to have it in Southbridge — which was a great idea."

Nearly all Relays have three events in common — a welcome lap, where all teams walk a lap together holding their banners, a survivor lap, where all survivors of cancer are celebrated and walk a lap, and the luminary ceremony, where candles are placed inside bags filled with sand with the names of those lost to cancer and takes place after dark.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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