Relay for Life of Des Plaines/Park Ridge Celebrates 10 Years
“If we can build a space station, why can’t we find a cure for cancer?” This is a question that Betty Bongartz has asked many times over the years as the list of family members and friends affected by the disease has grown. Bongartz, a twenty-two year breast cancer survivor is co-chairing the 10th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Des Plaines/Park Ridge on June 29 at Maine West High School in Des Plaines.
What is Relay for Life? Relay is an overnight relay-style event where teams of people camp out around a track while members of each team take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event. The event raises funds for cancer research, the 24/7 cancer hotline and local support such as wigs and rides to treatment. The event is organized and led by a team of tireless volunteers. Along with Bongartz, this year’s event chairs include fellow Des Plaines residents Jeanne Schroeder and Verna Krueger. All three have previously been involved with the Relay in several different ways including team captain, serving on a variety of event planning committees and now sharing the responsibility for leading the Relay into its tenth year in Des Plaines.
When talking about what makes the Relay such a special event, all three agree that it is seeing the everyday citizens work to raise money through bake sales, fundraisers and donations then come together to walk for twelve hours with one goal in mind, to put an end to this disease. As Schroeder puts it, “The success of the Relay for Life of Des Plaines/Park Ridge is due to the commitment of the residents of these communities to work to support those dealing with cancer, support those who have beat cancer and honor those who have lost their battle with cancer.”
This year, the Relay would like to give back to the community that has given so much to it by holding a food drive to benefit the Des Plaines Self Help Pantry. Relay attendees are encouraged to bring non-perishable foods that can be placed in the designated red barrels or a “Birthday Box,” a shoe box containing a cake mix, a can of frosting, candles and a birthday card.
An important aspect of the Relay that many people may not be aware of is the fact that the Relay is a family-friendly environment filled with food, entertainment and fun for the whole community. From the hilarious “Queen” of the Relay contest to the beautiful luminaria ceremony, the Relay has something for everyone. The goal for this year’s Relay for Life of Des Plaines/Park Ridge is to raise $75,000. There is still time to donate or form a team. Visit www.relayforlife.org/desplainesil or call Rachel Schindler at 847-368-1166. The Relay is Friday, June 29 at Maine West High School. The festivities begin at 6:00 p.m. Verna Krueger sums the event up best, “It doesn’t matter if you are there for an hour or if you stay all night, you leave feeling energized and empowered because you know that you made a difference in someone’s life.”