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700 Pull All-Nighter for Westport Relay for Life

WESTON, Conn. – The Weston Middle School field frequently hosts sporting events, but Saturday night more than 700 team members who have raised over $100,000 for the American Cancer Society celebrate their achievement in the Weston/Westport Relay for Life event.

Tents were set up around the field by 68 teams, but there won’t be much sleeping, with activities planned throughout the night, from the luminaria ceremony, when glow sticks will light up the field to commemorate those who lost the battle to cancer, to the Zumba at midnight, when everyone will welcome the new day with festive dancing.

The Survivor’s Walk started the event with a group of cancer survivors walking the first lap, before caregivers and team members followed.

Mary Kingwood, a Norwalk survivor who battled lung cancer 12 years ago, said, “I thank God and everyone who helped, from the receptionists to the nurses to the technicians, the doctors and the volunteers, like the people here today.”

First Selectman Gayle Weinstein said she would chaperone the event from 3 to 6 a.m., and the Weston Volunteer Fire Department will also be on hand. Fire Chief John Pokorny said firefighters will show up in shifts every hour and the firefighters will walk laps wearing compressed-air tanks.

“We all love a challenge,” Pokorny said. “And this will be like we’re fighting a fire, so it’s a good training exercise.”

High school Principal Lisa Wolak said the Weston/Westport Relay for Life came to Weston last year in memory of her husband, who died from cancer in 2010.

“We wanted to bring it to Weston, and our kids are amazing,” she said. This year's goal of $100,000 was passed, with $115,000 raised by the beginning of the event.

Among the teams participating are Pirates of the Cureibbean, an 11-member group of Weston High School students who raised $1,300.

Taylor Swanson participated last year and said, “It was really fun, none of us got any sleep. We were nocturnal for about a week afterward.”

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