On Wednesday, May 9, cancer survivor Mike Nardella (pictured, lower left) of Phillipsburg spoke to Madison Junior School students about his experience with cancer and why he participates in the American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life. Nardella’s presentation was designed to prepare the student body for its own upcoming Mini-Relay for Life, to be held on Friday, June 1, one of several to be held in Madison and Harding.
Thirteen years ago, doctors told Nardella that he had one year to live. After the removal of a 20-pound tumor from his stomach, the removal of most of his digestive system, subsequent discovery of cancer in his lung and abdominal muscle, and eleven years of chemotherapy, Nardella credits his survival to scientists whose research was supported by the American Cancer Society. His inspirational message of maintaining a positive attitude and never giving up hope was well received by the 600-member student body.
Nardella’s first question to the students, “How many of you know someone with cancer?” was met with raised hands throughout the auditorium. According to Nardella, “Fifty years from now when we ask the question, ‘Who knows someone with cancer?’ no hand will be raised.”
In addition to Madison Junior School, Mini-Relays are scheduled at Madison’s Central Avenue School, Kings Road School, Torey J. Sabatini School, and St. Vincent Martyr School, as well as at neighboring Harding Township School. Together, over 2,500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade will participate.
During physical education classes, participating students from the six area schools will walk and engage in activities with Madison High School student mentors. Thanks to a generous sponsorship from the Madison Rotary Club, students will receive ice pops to quench their thirst after their Mini-Relays. The event’s purpose is to help students celebrate those who are cancer survivors, remember those who have succumbed to cancer, and fight back against cancer in their lives with healthy habits. Prior to the Mini-Relays, students will be sent home with donation forms to share with their family and friends. Donations in the form of checks should be made payable to the American Cancer Society. Forms should be returned to the students’ physical education teachers by Friday, June 1.
A team of students from Madison High School is organizing the Mini-Relay for Life project on Friday, June 1, for its Day of Service. Mini-Relay for Life student founder Kathy Meyer was assisted by team captains Sina Alhusseini, Kelly Colby, Leah Harris, Kelsey Koppenol, Allynn Szotak, and Nicole Zara. The committee will be chaperoned by Madison High School teachers Mrs. Riley, Ms. Papa, Ms. O’Brien, Mr. Fisher, Ms. Salterelli, Mrs. Sheer, and Mrs. Neto, as well as 40 students from Madison High School. For more information about the Mini-Relay for Life, contact Meyer at TommysAngels1@gmail.com.
Many of the Day of Service student mentors will also take part in Relay for Life of Madison/Florham Park, at Madison High School June 23-24. The annual major fundraising event, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, will involve hundreds of people on 50 teams. The sixth annual event allows participants from all walks of life—including cancer survivors, families, friends, corporations, civic organizations, schools, religious groups, and concerned community members—to join together in the fight against cancer.
The overnight, volunteer-driven celebration will feature individuals and teams enjoying a meal, dancing, circling a track relay style, and taking part in a Family Fun Fair led by Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and local kid-friendly businesses. At nightfall, Relay for Life participants take part in a touching ceremony honoring cancer survivors, as well as paying tribute to those lost to the disease.