Relay for Life draws more than a dozen CYOs
More than 400 teens and adults gathered July 13 for the 13th annual CYO Relay for Live event for the American Cancer Society held at St. Clement of Rome’s school yard in Metairie.
This all-night event was themed, “Once Upon a Relay,” and each of the 15 parish youth groups involved took a fairy-tale or children’s movie or book theme and sold related items to raise money.
The CYO groups, themes and fundraising ideas included: St. Raymond/St. Leo, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” selling sweets and candy; St. Dominic, “Three Little Pigs,” pigs in a blanket; St. Matthew, “Mr. Poppers Penguins,” freeze pops; Holy Family, “Cajun Night Before Christmas,” jambalaya; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, “Charlotte’s Web,” had a jail; St. Clement of Rome, “Hunger Games,” popcorn, basketball games; St. Angela Merici, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” waffles; Divine Mercy, “Little Mercy,” a dunking booth; St. Gabriel, “Dr. Seuss,” fried Oreos; Sacred Heart, Norco, “Rainbow Fish,” iced coffee; St. Andrew the Apostle, “Sleeping Beauty,” selling time to rest in bean bag chairs; St. Benilde, “Care Bears,” drinks; St. Christopher, “Harry Potter,” nachos and cookies; St. Francis Xavier, “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” hot dogs and chili; “Our Lady of Divine Providence, “Alice in Wonderland,” Silly String and invisible ink.
Luminaries also were sold in honor or memory of a cancer survivor or victim. In all, more than $16,000 was raised.
Throughout the event, hourly theme took place and a No Talent” talent show, an Olympic games competition and awards for best decorations and most spirit. Team members also walked around the track all evening, and even attended Mass at midnight.
This year’s relay held special importance for several of the youth groups. St. Benilde’s CYO found out the night prior that its youth minister, Anne Stiegman, was diagnosed with advanced cancer. They dedicated laps around the track for her and prayed for her healing and her family.
St. Clement’s CYO was dedicating the event to Taylor Kennedy, a young parishioner with lymphoma who was undergoing chemotherapy. Another parishioner, Nicole Roberts, and her daughter Alyssa sold fun, glitter tattoos at the event with half of the proceeds going to Taylor and the other half to the American Cancer Society.
The CYO Relay for Life was begun as a grassroots effort headed by Chris LaRosa, a former CYO director at St. Clement. LaRosa is now a volunteer with St. Andrew the Apostle CYO and TEC Retreat. He said he was looking to establish an event where multiple youth groups could gather to socialize. A youth director from Our Lady of the Lake brought the idea of Relay for Life to the table, and two months later the event was born. It draws between 370 to 520 people each year.
The Relay for Life continues to provide an excellent opportunity to honor loved ones affected by cancer, as well as an enjoyable, meaningful way to spend a weekend with our Catholic faith community.
For first-time participants such as Claire Gallagher, St. Clement’s new youth minister and director of religious education, the event showed the vibrancy of youth.
“It was powerful for me,” Gallagher said. “It speaks a lot about the Catholic Church in general and the youth – what they are willing do to for causes for people who are Catholic or not.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org. Lauren Westholz, a recent graduate of St. Mary’s Dominican High School and a member of St. Benilde’s CYO, contributed to this story.