AREA NEWSThe Northern Westchester Examiner

There’s No Place Like Yorktown for Relay For Life

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Like most people, Jim and Denise Poulin of Mohegan Lake have experienced co-workers, friends and relatives who have been stricken by cancer.

In the early 1990s, Denise’s secretary, who was only 26 years old, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and died four month later. In 1997, the couple’s niece died of leukemia at two years old. Currently, Denise’s sister is battling breast cancer.

Both employed at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, the Poulins have been attending Relay For Life events for the last 20 years and have raised $200,000 for the American Cancer Society. For the last six years, they have devoted their year-round efforts to the Relay For Life in Yorktown, which will be held this year June 14 and 15 at the Jack DeVito Memorial Field behind the Yorktown Community and CulturalCenter, starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a survivor’s dinner.

“It’s been a time consuming labor of love for us,” Jim Poulin said. “Year-round we do all kinds of different things. It’s really become a part of who Denise and I are at this point. It’s just a special feeling for a night to have 1,000 best friends.”

The Poulins and their Twenty Years of Fighting for a Cure team are striving to raise $6,000 this year. Overall, Jane McCarthy, co-chairman of Relay For Life Yorktown, said she is hoping to raise $250,000 from the 100 teams expected to participate.

“Really, there’s no place like Yorktown. The town is so behind us. It’s so exciting when it all comes together,” she said. “We’re one of the only relays that do fundraising at night. It’s such a great place to go for people of all ages.”

McCarthy, who noted she has watched six close friends “survive and thrive” after being diagnosed with cancer, first attended Relay For Life Yorktown five years ago as a member of a team and instantly “fell in love with it.”

“I didn’t know how passionate I would become as I watched my friends and other people get cancer. We have to continue the passion. The American Cancer Society’s biggest mission is research. The more money we give to them the more birthdays we’ll have,” McCarthy said. “People are getting the disease but so many people live. Now when you get a cancer diagnosis it doesn’t mean you’re going to die. You can’t give up.”

Relay For Life Yorktown is going on this year with a heavy heart in memory of Randy Zapakin, the popular emcee of the event for several years who was killed last November after being hit by a car while walking his dog near his home.

“We will honor Randy. He will not be forgotten. He’s sorely missed,” McCarthy said. “As we plan this we miss his sense of humor and his compassion.”

Opening ceremonies for Relay For Life Yorktown begin at 7 p.m. and the moving illumination ceremony will take place at 10 p.m. For further information, visit


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