Walking at the American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” in Central Park on Saturday was personal for Bernadette Glenn. Glenn is a cancer survivor herself, having survived stage three breast cancer 21 years ago.
Glenn said surviving cancer and having two parents who had cancer changed the course of her life dramatically, calling it her “second chance,” and she wanted to utilize that chance to help others.
“Long story short, not only am I a survivor, I’m also an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network legislative ambassador,” said Glenn. “So we go and talk to our politicians about all the cutbacks, funding for research. Without that…we wouldn’t be here.”
This was the first in-person ACS event at Central Park since 2019. Although temperatures were up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, Leslie Bergen, co-chair for “Relay for Life,” said it wasn’t nearly as bad as 2019, which she dubbed “the relay from hell.”
Bergen said the 2019 event was doused with rain, but Bergen said teams continued to walk well past midnight, even as the rain poured down.
“It feels great to be back. We’re thrilled to be back in Central Park. We’ve always had it, well for quite a few years we’ve had it at Central Park and last year we were able to have it at the last minute,” said Bergen.
Bergen said although this is the first relay at Central Park since the pandemic, an in-person event was able to happen last October as well. The resilience that people have to support the ACS was not just evident in Saturday’s heat or 2019’s pouring rain, but also during the pandemic. Abby Smith, staffer for the ACS, was quick to point out that the pandemic did not stop their efforts to combat cancer.
“It feels good to be back in the park for sure, but cancer never stopped because of the pandemic and neither did we,” said Smith.
The relay also featured a luminaria event at sundown. Luminaria are paper bags with candles in them decorated in memoriam to people who were lost to cancer.
Glenn said the driving force for people continuing to find and fund research for a cure is, undoubtedly, hope.
“We all have that one word and that’s hope,” said Glenn. “And that’s what needs to be is the hope that we’ll, you know, we’ll find that cure. We’ll find that cure someday.”