East Quogue School Plans First Relay Recess To Raise Funds For Cancer Research

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East Quogue Elementary School faculty members are inviting students, parents and community members to join them in raising money for the American Cancer Society at their inaugural Relay Recess event on Friday, May 3.

The teachers—Jackie Martin, Danielle Davin, Christine Capozzola, Jill Stevens and Jennifer Luckingham—said they have spent more than a year fundraising and planning for the event, which they hope will become a tradition at the Central Avenue school. Relay Recess events are similar to Relay for Life fundraisers, though the former involve elementary school children raising money for cancer research by agreeing to have a member of their team walk around a track for a specified time. Relay for Life events typically involve high school students and run overnight.

“It’s just a nice way to bring the community together with the school and teach the kids about giving back for an intrinsic motivation, instead of receiving something in return,” Ms. Martin said.

She explained that the teachers participate each year in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Jones Beach, which is also sponsored by the American Cancer Society, but this year decided to plan an event closer to home that everyone could be involved with.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the elementary school with a reception and dinner donated by local restaurants for all cancer survivors and their caretakers. A local parent who survived cancer will then speak, followed by the opening survivor and caregiver lap on a track that will be set up on the lawn. They then will invite all the teams and participants to begin walking until midnight.

Ms. Martin said it is not necessary to join a team to take part, and all community members are welcome to join in the fun. The teachers have enlisted their very own Jack Gurley, a fifth-grader at the school, to DJ the event. The teachers said they were impressed with how well he did at the school’s dance, and so decided to bring him on board.

Jack said his first gig was his aunt’s wedding. His father, Brian Gurley, who used to play in a band, taught Jack to use his DJ equipment, which he will set up at the Relay Recess event.

“My favorite part is when everybody is dancing and having a good time and they’re enjoying it,” Jack said. He added that he has already spent a few days preparing playlists, and he has his DJ outfit planned out, complete with a homemade mouse hat worn by his favorite DJ, deadmau5.

The students at the school have raised money by collecting coins in water bottles and jugs placed in their classrooms. Each classroom will be walking as a team. So far, the district has a total of 116 participants and 20 teams signed up and a total of about $7,400 raised, not far from their goal of $10,000.

Anyone interested in donating can do so at the event website, www.relayrecess.org, or by contacting the school at (631) 653-5210. In addition, the teachers are hoping to receive the donation of gift cards or goods from local businesses for a Chinese auction to raise additional funds.

Ms. Martin said students will also be decorating paper bags with drawings or messages in memory of those who lost their battle with cancer. Others will honor cancer survivors and those participating in the event. The bags will be illuminated with candles as part of a luminaria ceremony during the Relay Recess. She added that the event is also a way to remind students of the importance of healthy habits and cancer prevention.

Alison Irving, who manages special events for the American Cancer Society and is helping the group organize Friday’s event, said the Relay Recess events are her favorite. She said it renews her faith in education that so many teachers and administrators are willing to put in all the extra time required to plan it. There have been about 20 such events on Long Island, she said, though none on the South Fork.

“This community has, unfortunately, been touched by cancer way too many times, and this is just our way of fighting back,” Principal Robert Long said.

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