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TOWNSEND — The fourth-annual Relay for Life fund-raiser kicked off at the North Middlesex Regional High School on Saturday, May 20, with over 22 high school teams participating.

With team names such as the Cancer Hippies, Super Heroes, Pirates, Disco Inferno and Hollywood, students raised much-needed funds for cancer research, and had a great time in the process.

”The event began with a survivor lap in which cancer survivors take a victory lap around the track,” Relay for Life Co-Chairman Melissa Baldwin said. “The involvement of local cancer survivors is proof of the progress that has been made in improving cancer survival rates and the quality of life following cancer treatments.”

North Middlesex was the first high school in the country to have an all-student relay event, according to Baldwin.

Laura Shannon, captain of the Disco Inferno team, said her team was made up of all freshman, so this was their first time doing the relay.

”Each team had one member of the team on the track all the time, doing shifts,” Shannon said. “We have plenty of food because there are guys on our team,” she joked.

Relay for Life began in 1985, when Dr. Gordon Klatt took the first step of his 24-hour walk/jog/run around a Tacoma Washington track and raised $27,000 to support the American Cancer Society. The following year, 220 supporters on 19 teams joined Dr. Klatt in the overnight event, and the Relay for Life event was born.

Events that were held on the track for the students included a pie-eating contest, tag team, three-legged race, watermelon game, and soaker bottles. Each hour of the walk had a theme which the students thought up.

Team Hollywood, also made up of all freshmen, came about as its members are involved in singing, dancing or acting classes.

”We wanted to have fun and do something we all like to do,” said captain Stephanie Quintal. “Here we raise money and have a good time doing it.”

The North Middlesex goal was to raise $77,000 but the total was not readily available, according to Baldwin, as the funds were not all in yet.

According to a press release from Gina King, spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, the relayers will sign their names to the Relay for Life “Wall of Hope” banner. The banner will be on display at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., along with 5,000 other Wall of Hope banners from communities across the country, during the Society’s “Celebration on the Hill” event, scheduled for September 19 and 20.

The Wall of Hope banner for North Middlesex is sponsored by TurflLinks Environmental Service Inc.