For Bayside resident Leon Koradhais, a two−year cancer survivor, Relay For Life is more than just a night filled with dancing and music — it is about raising money so others like him can beat a disease that about 9,000 Queens residents with be diagnosed with this year.
Koradhais, a 46−year−old who battled Hodgkin’s disease for four years, is certainly looking forward to the event’s festivities — the camaraderie, the music. While much of the night has a celebratory feel, Koradhais said everyone there understands the gravity of raising money for cancer research. After all, it saved Koradhais’ life.
“The reason I’m here today is because in the four years I was sick there were new medicines and treatment methods that helped me win against the disease,” said Koradhais, who underwent three rounds of chemotherapy and had radiation twice a day for two weeks.
The Bayside resident will be one of about 300 people expected to attend the Relay For Life event at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills June 13−14. There will be 12 Relay For Life events throughout Queens this year, including ones at Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, Queens College, St. John’s University, Astoria Park, Fort Totten and the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Relay For Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, raises money for cancer research, early detection and prevention education, advocacy efforts and patient services. Teams of up to 15 people can sign up for the relay and will spend much of the relay walking around a track. Individuals typically camp out overnight for the event.
Taliah Duchatelier, manager of special events for the American Cancer Society in Queens, said funds raised will help her office continue to provide various programs, including the “Hope Lodge” in midtown Manhattan.
“We put patients up from other boroughs in our Hope Lodge free of charge,” Duchatelier said. “We have a living room, kitchens, a library. It’s really nice.”
Forest Hills relay participants gathered Tuesday night in Rego Park to hold a race kick−off party in hopes of attracting more volunteers to the event. Prior to Tuesday night, there were six volunteers signed up to help with the third annual Forest Hills race, including Forest Hills resident Elisa Infosino.
“I’ve had loved ones close to me die of cancer, so it was important to me to volunteer,” Infosino said. “It is important to work towards a cure as well as for promoting advocacy. Unfortunately, most of the people I knew who died of cancer didn’t go for a screening in time. Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives and that we forget to take care of ourselves, and it’s important to remind people to do that.”
About 9,000 Queens residents are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Nearly 1.5 million Americans were newly diagnosed with cancer in 2008, according to the ACS.
For more information, visit relayforlife.org or contact Duchatelier at 718−263−2225.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson
©2009 Community News Group
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