Southeast Queens walks to raise $$$ for cancer

The event, scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. Friday in…

By Adam Kramer

State Assemblywoman Barbara Clark (D-Queens Village) and the American Cancer Society are joining forces to raise cancer awareness in southeast Queens with a long walk Friday night — “Relay for Life.”

The event, scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. Friday in Queens’ Fred Cabell Park (formerly the Cambria Heights Park), aims to generate between $7,000 and $10,000 in donations and teach community members the importance of early diagnosis of the deadly disease.

“An event like this is important because we need to raise the awareness of people in southern Queens,” Clark said. “In the black community 33 percent of cancer patients are diagnosed late. Needless to say, the outcome is not good.”

In other communities around the state, she said, only 12 percent of the cancer victims are diagnosed with the disease at a late stage. Clark said the southeast Queens community has a high mortality rate and there are a number of changes that should improve the survival rate.

Southeast Queens residents need better services and facilities, Clark said. There is a lack of easy access to cancer services, screening and diagnosis, she noted.

“The lack of cancer education is a national issue,” Clark said. “There is a whole federal unit which looks at the disparity in minority health services.”

The event, which is taking place in southeast Queens for the first time, was originally scheduled for June 14-15 at Roy Wilkins Park but canceled due to scheduling conflicts. The walk, which was scheduled to take place over two days, was shortened to a four-hour event to make sure it would happen.

People involved in the relay raise money for the American Cancer Society in a number of ways — sponsoring or being part of a team, selling T-shirts or selling candles. Each team captain and member raise money through the $10 each must donate to participate in the relay. They also collect sponsor donations for how far they walk.

The event, which is typically overnight, is the nation’s largest grassroots fund-raiser for cancer research and has been growing since it began in 1985. The first Relay for Life was held in Tacoma, Wash., when a single doctor circled a track for a full 24 hours. Since then it has raised a total of $732 million, according to the American Cancer Society.

The southeast Queens event is one of five Relays for Life planned this year in New York City. Another relay was held in June at Beach Channel High School in the Rockaways for the second year in a row.

Pamela Moore, district manager for Clark, said as of Monday there were eight teams participating with between 10 and 20 members each. Next year, she said, the assemblywoman wants to bring together everyone who raised money for the American Cancer Society and hold one large fund-raiser.

“To host this event is an honor for our community,” Clark said. “The ‘Relay for Life’ is not only a unique and challenging way to raise funds for a good cause, it is also a great opportunity to bring the community together and raise awareness about cancer.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at [email protected] or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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