AYER - With less than three months to go before the kick-off of the American Cancer Society's Ayer Relay for Life event, teams of area men, women, and children are enthusiastically raising money for this worthwhile cause. None perhaps as enthusiastically as the Relay team, The Flockers.
The team consists of Nicole Williams, Debbi Blood, Chris Miska, Sharon Hebert, Maureen Breault, Cyndie Noonan, Katrina Drew, Sonia Patano, Sheila Kelly, Lisa Richard, Stacey Clifton and Tracy Stiles.
Why the name "The Flockers"? This catchy moniker has something to do with the hot pink flamingos that will soon be spotted all over the Town of Ayer.
One of the ways the team aims to fundraise is "to flock".
The main flamingo comes with instructions as to how to have the pesky creatures safely removed from their property. The team assures the public that all flocking is done in good spirits and not meant to be malicious at all.
"We are just having fun while raising money to fight against cancer," Blood said.
After your house has been "flocked", you can have the "flock fly away" for a donation to the Groupies team of $10- or for $20, the flock can fly away and migrate to another yard of your choosing. For those who don't want to be "re-flocked", insurance can also be purchased for an extra $10.
"Two years ago our flock was very busy," said Blood. "Last year the flock took a break, but our pink friends are back and ready to sit on a lawn near you!"
The team is fearlessly led by Ayer's Blood, Williams, and Richard, who have all been involved with Relay for many years.
"I joined Relay to help find a cure for cancer. I continue to Relay with 10 of the most amazing women that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. We have a ton of fun, while raising money for the cause," Richard said.
Each member of the team has a reason for "relaying". Stiles is the newest member of the Flockers.
"I relay in memory of my dad who lost his battle to cancer before it could really start and in honor of my mom who fought and beat stage 3 ovarian cancer," Stiles said. "She is a true survivor. I relay to support all individuals whose lives have been touched by cancer."
Lisa Richard, Katrina Drew, Cyndie Noonan, and Debbi Blood have all walked for six years. Richard walks in memory of her aunt, Jackie Desmond, and her husband's aunt, Mae Richard.
Katrina Drew has battled thyroid cancer and walks in honor of cancer survivors Dylan Pueschel and her aunt Rosalind Bush.
Williams walks in remembrance of her father who lost his battle with cancer. "Each year I am awed by the positive energy displayed at Relay. I am honored to be a part of it."
Relay for Life is personal for Kelly because in 1997, she lost her mother to cancer. "I relay because I have the hope that someday, a cure can be found. This year, two of my close friends are in treatment; both are moms with beautiful children. Both are fighters. Whenever I think of people who are battling this horrible disease, I am inspired to be part of The Flockers and Relay for Life -- raising money, remembering loved ones and being part of this incredible event is the least I can do!"
Chris Miska relays to honor her friends and family lost, to celebrate the survivors and to raise money for a cure. "I also like the opportunity for our team and our community to rally together for a common cause," Miska said.
Patano started to Relay in 2010 to support a great cause with a wonderful group of women. "A year later, I was walking as a 'survivor'. Today I relay to show support to all those who have survived, those who continue to fight and those who were taken from us by this terrible disease."
Team members do their own private fundraising, but they also raise funds as a group. The flocking is one way they do that and another is an upcoming event - Ladies Shopping Night at St. Mary's Hall in Ayer on Friday, April 12th from 7-9 pm.
"We are really excited about this event and think it will be a great fundraiser and a really fun night out!" said Richard. That evening there will be a variety of vendors selling their goods with a portion of the proceeds being donated to The Flockers.
Some of the vendors include Tupperware, Tastefully Simple, Pampered Chef, Scentsy, Mary Kay, and Silpada. Youtopia Day Spa will also be offering paraffin hand treatments and chair massages.
For more information on Flocking or Ladies Shopping Night, contact Nicole Williams at 978-771-7715 or Debbi Blood at 978-772-3858. To donate to The Flockers, visit http://main.acsevents.org/goto/Flockers.