DeFreeuw dedicates time to Relay

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

For more than 10 years, Dana DeFreeuw has dedicated a large amount of time towards Relay for Life, and in the last two years, she has turned it into a more demanding volunteer position.

DeFreeuw is currently the event lead for Suffolk’s Relay for Life, and this is her second year in the volunteer position. The position requires her to manage the big picture before and during the actual Relay for Life event.

“I coordinate all of the other leads that we have — Day of Event Lead, People Lead and Mission Lead,” DeFreeuw said. “Basically, I coordinate with all of them and make sure they have the resources they need to get the job done. I also step in to help when needed,” DeFreeuw said.


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Relay for Life started for DeFreeuw as a team captain in Chesapeake more than 10 years ago despite living in Suffolk for the last 20 years. She realized it would make more sense to get involved locally and began coming to meetings in the area.

“I started going to meetings here and began creating teams here. I eventually became a committee member and took on a lead position,” DeFreeuw said.

The cause of Relay for Life is close to DeFreeuw’s heart. DeFreeuw lost her grandmother in 1985 to lung cancer, and her sister is a survivor of ovarian cancer.

“I am hoping one day my children won’t have to worry about hearing about the loss due to cancer or having to tell their children. My hope is that the money we raise is the money given to the researcher that’s on that brink and makes that discovery,” DeFreeuw said.

While the work is hard, DeFreeuw is happy to be doing it.

“It can be stressful at times, but when the day is done and the event has finished, it ends up working out well,” DeFreeuw said. “With any big event, it tends to be stressful until the time it’s done. I enjoy it and the people I work with, because they do a fabulous job.”

There are many moving parts to the actual event, but DeFreeuw always finds herself loving the luminaria event best. The luminaria is a ceremony of remembrance and is a way to honor those that have lost the battle to cancer.

DeFreeuw is ready for the Relay for Life event, and the clock is counting down fast. The event is May 18 at Nansemond River High School.

Survivors wanting to register for the Survivor’s Dinner of May 9, those registering new teams and potential sponsors can email DeFreeuw for more information and help at