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Relay for Life

FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. — The fourth annual Housatonic Valley of Connecticut Relay for Life to benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS) returns to the Northwest Corner June 4 and 5. Relay for Life is a fundraiser as well as a way to raise awareness about cancer research. The program is national but the regional event has grown phenomenally over the years. The first year brought out fewer than 100 participants and raised about $19,000.The following year brought in well over $100,000. More importantly, word got around about the emotional aspect of the event, whose centerpiece is having teams of people walk the track at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in memory of loved ones lost to cancer. The relay was not just a way for people to donate, it was also an opportunity to remember and grieve for lost loved ones, to celebrate survival and to find hope for the future. The football field and track at Housatonic was transformed into a huge party each year, with teams staking out tents for a night of walking — and sharing. The powerful response here to the Relay got the attention of a group conducting an American Cancer Society (ACS) prevention study.Area residents between the ages of 30 and 65 who have not had cancer are invited to fill out surveys over the next 20 to 30 years as part of a program known as CSP-3. The surveys will be mailed out on an occasional basis. “There are probably only 15 survey areas in New England this year,” Dan Wouri said.Wouri’s name has become synonymous with Relay here in the Northwest Corner. He has been involved from the beginning, as a member of the North Canaan Volunteer Ambulance Corps team. He co-chaired last year. This year, he and fellow ACS volunteer Ashley Allyn will be organizing their own crew to register a goal of at least 160 people for the survey.CSP-3 began 10 years ago. “There is a nationwide goal of 500,000 participants,” Wouri said. “We may not have the population density they are looking for, but they saw our passion because our Relay grew so fast. They expect a large percentage of the population to register.”The survey tracks lifestyle, behavioral and other factors that may eventually reveal patterns and clues to cancer causes. CPS-3 is the third in a series of surveys launched in the 1950s. The first survey linked smoking to lung cancer. The second survey determined the significant impact of obesity and diet on the growth of cancer.Wouri said he signed up three years for the survey and just got his first survey, which took 15 minutes to complete.“No one will call you. Your name doesn’t even appear on the survey. They use bar codes,” Wouri said.Participants do not have to live in Connecticut, which is great for the Relay, which attracts people from Massachusetts and New York. Other health issues don’t matter, including a cancer diagnosis after one begins participating. Because the study looks at environmental and lifestyle factors, ACS looks to build a study group of people who are generally settled and have a lifestyle that will not change much. Multiple family members may participate.The local Relay for Life will begin at 2 p.m. June 4 (instead of the usual 4 p.m.) this year, to accommodate survey registration from 3 to 7 p.m. Registration will involve signing a consent form, completing a brief written survey, submitting to a waist measurement and giving a small blood sample, drawn by a certified phlebotomist. Registration workers will sign confidentiality agreements.The second step is a more detailed survey mailed to participants.To get a pre-registration form, e-mail housatonicvalleyCPS3@gmail.com.Forms can be completed and returned electronically, or printed and mailed.There is no deadline, but sooner is best to avoid losing the opportunity for local residents to take part; and so enough workers can be on hand to process the applications.For more information on the survey and on creating a Relay for Life team, contact dan0462@yahoo.com or 09ALALLY@alma.edu.

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