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The Civic Scene

On June 7 and June 8, the American Cancer Society will hold its Relay for Life at The Oval in Cunningham Park, Fresh Meadows. It is one of several such events taking place in Queens this year. It was first held in Cunningham Park last year, but this year there are more public notices, so the event should be bigger.

The Relay for Life is designed to raise awareness about the people who fought cancer and are free of the disease and to honor the memory of those who died from cancer. People form teams whose members take turns walking, running or riding around The Oval, at Union Turnpike and 193rd Street, all night long. Tents will be set up so team members can rest during the night of June 7. Teams make commitments of money.

I was only recently told by a resident on 193rd Street that there was too much noise last year. This person was ignored last year when he went into the park to complain about the noise at 11 p.m. The organizers have apologized. They have already met with Cunningham Park Manager Gabe Echevarria to work out plans to make the event a festival of life and fight-back event, but not annoying to the community. There was a discussion at the last meeting of the Friends of Cunningham Park. Members of the West Cunningham Park Civic Association have also talked to Gabe. The event should be one of camaraderie and honor friends and family, yet be pleasant to the community. It would take place in the eastern end of Cunningham Park, along 73rd Avenue, between Francis Boulevard and the Clearview Expressway.

The Relay for Life is a place where cancer survivors and their family and friends can be together and raise money for cancer research. Teams are created by groups of friends, organizations or corporations. People sometimes just drop by to watch, talk or buy a T-shirt or other thing to support cancer research, education, advocacy or service to people in need. One aim is creating awareness so cancer can be prevented. Team captains have held several meetings.

On June 7, at noon, setup begins; at 3:30 p.m., registration starts. At 5 p.m., there will be an opening ceremony and a victory lap for cancer survivors. People who wish can obtain and wear T-shirts. Groups which contribute $125 or more can have Walk of Hope Signs with their names on them placed around the track.

At 10 p.m. on June 7, there will be a Luminaria ceremony paying tribute to those who have been affected by cancer. Candles are placed in white bags filled with sand and positioned around The Oval to commemorate the courage of those who have won the fight or those still fighting or in memory of those who lost the battle. The Luminaries are kept burning throughout the night to represent the healing power of the community and importance of funding to find a cure.

There will be a closing ceremony on June 8 at 8 a.m., then a cleanup of the area for a couple of hours. While some people will stay in the park all night, some will go home and come back in the morning.

Last year, I attended the Relay for Life on the athletic field of the Campus Magnet complex in Cambria Heights, since I work for the Magnet schools. Since the high school students were involved, it was only a daytime event with community members also attending. Tents were set up on the athletic field and people walked, visited, wore T-shirts and celebrated cancer survivors. Everyone was enthusiastic.

Stores or groups wishing to contribute food, water, supplies, gifts or money to the Cunningham Park Relay for Life will be appreciated. I have given LP & Company and D'Ferraro Hair Designer, both in Fresh Meadows, packets of tags in the shape of stars or moons. People contribute $1 and put their name on the tag, which is hung on a wall.

For information, call the American Cancer Society at 718-263-2224, visit www.relayforlife.org or events.cancer.org/RFLcunninghamparkNY, fax 718-261-0758 or e-mail buttahfly@nyc.rr.com.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The Daily News reported that FDNY paramedics Juan Henrique and Marco Girao climbed into the wreckage of that East Side crane disaster two months ago and helped save the lives of two victims. They stayed with the trapped people while firefighters extracted them.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The New York Times reported that retiring U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) just negotiated a $2 million-a-year job as the pharmaceutical industry's chief lobbyist. He is one of many doing post-Congressional lobbying work. Any questions why there are no stronger ethics laws on the books?

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