Relay For Life Might Not Return To Roselle Park

The annual American Cancer Society’s “Relay For Life” event held in Roselle Park for the last five years might not happen next year. At the November 15, 2010 council meeting, mayor Joseph DeIorio used a significant portion of his report to discuss how the Borough will be looking for a different sponsor to hold an event in 2011.

After the meeting, the mayor expanded upon his initial comments as to why the American Cancer Society (ACS) will holding the event in Kenilworth, “The reason that they’ve told is that Kenilworth’s Board Of Ed, superintendent, and governing body have committed whatever resources they have in order to have a Relay For Life in Kenilworth. It’s makes no sense because we’ve given them (ACS) carte blanche to do relays since they’ve moved from Kean University.”

Giving some history on the borough’s involvement with the event, the mayor stated, “It was because of Roselle Park that these other towns started to have their own Relays. We’ve been committed to this type of event since the early 90s. When it grew out of Woodbridge and they wanted a Union County event, Kean University was the location. When the couldn’t use Kean anymore, they came to Roselle Park. So we have an attachment to this event.”

The logistics of running such an event was a major issue for the mayor, “The reason it’s important to have a sponsoring agency is because we get materials from them, we get their signs, we get their web site use to raise money, their media contacts, a staff that knows how to run fundraisers (to help) recruit new team members.¬† You always need someone from the organization to help solicit support. It’s not just as easy as having a relay and then just writing a check to the American Cancer Society.”

In speaking with Gene Derkack, Regional Vice President of the American Cancer Society, he spoke on the matter, “A real decision hasn’t been made yet on whether or not we are having a Relay For Life in Roselle Park. We did, though, expand our Relay For Life events by going to Kenilworth.”

Mr. Derkack stated that the American Cancer Society is still working with community leaders in Roselle Park to assess the feasibility of having a “Relay For Life” in town. He continued, “It’s not just a decision that the American Cancer Society will make. We leave that up to community leaders, community volunteers, that really know the community a lot better than we do, in order to make that decision.”

To further explain what goes into deciding if a town be able to hold the event, Mr. Derkack said, “There’s a few things we take into consideration. Is the community behind the American Cancer Society? Can we rally this community to have a successful event there? And by successful¬† I mean, can we raise money and can we bring in awareness to that community around Relay For Life.”

Although the municipality is looking at other sponsored events, including the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s “Light The Night” Walk, Mr. Derkack is still open to having a “Relay For Life” in Roselle Park. He spoke on the hope and obstacles, “We want nothing more than to have a successful “Relay For Life” but it’s a grass-roots effort led by community volunteers that are dedicated to raising money and bringing in awareness. We could provide the operational process and the structure to any community but if the community is not behind it, it won’t be successful. When we combine those two, we have nothing but successful relays.”

When asked what could be done by the community leaders and the American Cancer Society to return the “Relay For Life” back to Roselle Park, Mr. Derkack stated, “We want nothing more (than that to happen). I’ll bring my whole team out to a community meeting to talk about how we make this great – how we make Roselle Park Relay For Life great. That’s the ultimate goal here, to serve as many patients as possible because the only people that suffer when that doesn’t happen are cancer patients and their families.”