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Volunteers kick off Rockin’ Relay

Relay for Life supporters gathered Tuesday to celebrate, to reflect and to kick off another successful year of raising funds for the fight against cancer.

“It’s because of you and all the volunteers around the world that we can do this,” said Becky Plate, community manager for Relay for Life.

The American Cancer Society provides research funding, support services and advocacy for cancer survivors, caregivers and researchers. The Relay for Life is its biggest fundraiser.

“My diagnosis turned my world upside down,” said Nicole Michaud, 25, a 12-year cancer survivor. Michaud was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 13.

Michaud shared her story with a crowd of about 80, telling the attendees about the six-hour surgery she endured to remove a golf ball-sized tumor in her brain and add drainage tubes to her head. After a year of chemotherapy, Michaud was declared cancer-free, and graduated high school in 2002.

“I am here today as a survivor,” Michaud said. “It was events such as Relay for Life that made me realize everybody was pulling for me.”

Michaud encouraged the volunteers at the event, reminding them why they Relay.

“When you walk in this event, remember who you are walking for,” Michaud said. “You are walking for a little girl to one day be able to walk the halls of high school. You are walking for a young man to be able to walk across the stage at graduation. You are walking for a woman to be able to walk down the aisle.”

Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life Chairman Ray Bennett announced last year’s final total, noting that even though the Relay lost some corporate sponsors because of the poor economy, the Suffolk Relay still raised $179,923 for cancer research.

“With your help, our goal this year is $212,000,” Bennett said.

To sign up to start a team, join a team, participate as a survivor, or donate, visit www.suffolkrockinrelay.org.