Gina Sevigny knows Relay For Life is an event that can’t be described.
“It is an experience you cannot explain until you’re there,” Sevigny, who is deeply involved in the upcoming Patterson Relay For Life, said. “There are happy moments, there are sad moments, it’s truly a celebration even though it’s sad.”
This will be Sevigny’s 20th year participating in Relay with her team, which she calls Earth Angels in memory of her late mother, Rose Marie Emerson, who succumbed to breast cancer 18 years ago. Patterson will have its Relay For Life this Saturday after Mahopac and Brewster held successful Relays this past weekend. The event kicks off at noon at the Patterson Fire Department.
The first year, mother and daughter went to a Relay in Dutchess County together just to see what it was like. The two eventually created a team and since Emerson worked for Scenic Hudson, family and friends called her an Earth Angel, which is the inspiration behind their Relay team name. Eventually, Sevigny began going to the Patterson Relay because she has roots in the community as a teacher at Mathew Paterson Elementary School for 25 years.
Sevigny has embraced everything Relay has to offer and what it stands for.
Her team is the leading fundraiser this year with close to $14,000 raised so far.
Sevigny said she likes to show people all the ways fundraising from Relay has helped in the battle against cancer. There are better medication programs for those diagnosed and support for those in the midst of treatment.
“My mom would be here now because of the (medical) breakthroughs that we’ve made,” Sevigny said.
Sevigny said her team fundraises by sending out a letter each year to family, friends and other acquaintances letting them know what’s new in local programs and research in hopes of soliciting donations. A silent auction is held at Sevigny’s school that raises money and tag sales are also held. A live music buff, Sevigny travels to shows around the Hudson Valley where she gets people to toss money in a purple bucket toward Relay.
A music festival being held in July will also register more money for Relay.
“People are so aware of our team and what we do,” she said. “People are asking ‘how can we help,’ which is beautiful.”
As a recruiter on the Relay committee, Sevigny, a Highland resident, will go to different spots in town and share how Relay makes a difference in the lives of cancer patients. The involvement can vary, which gives different businesses and residents flexible options to give back to the community.
“There is not one person, family, community or store that has not been affected by cancer,” she said.
With her mother on her mind, Sevigny said her fight against cancer is personal. She believes in what Relay can offer people going through a tough time.
“Relay is a family,” Sevigny said.