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The Times
  • Relay For Life had musical theme

  • About 90 cancer survivors took to the track to do their “victory” lap at the start of the 13th annual Herkimer County Relay For Life to songs such as “I’m Alive” by Celine Dion and “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” by Kelly Clarkson.

    Music was the theme for this year’s event, which took place this past Saturday and Sunday at Herkimer Elementary School.

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  • About 90 cancer survivors took to the track to do their “victory” lap at the start of the 13th annual Herkimer County Relay For Life to songs such as “I’m Alive” by Celine Dion and “What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” by Kelly Clarkson.
    Music was the theme for this year’s event, which took place this past Saturday and Sunday at Herkimer Elementary School.
    “For survivors, music can be an important part of their journey,” said Stephanie Boucher, director of special events for the eastern division of the American Cancer Society. “Some listen to music when they are being treated. Some rely on music to get them through the days that are not so good.”
    Boucher asked people listen to the music selections made for the event and to “hear how important music is.”
    Some of the teams decorated their tents with the music theme, including Bob’s Buddies which had a jukebox made out of cardboard and records hanging up inside the tent. The team also had a banner that read “A cure is music to our ears.”
    Relays are taking place throughout the region to help raise money for the American Cancer Society, including one June 16 to June 17 at Dolgeville Central School. According to the Herkimer County event’s website on Saturday, there were 43 teams with 482 participants and nearly $30,000 raised.
    Highlights for the relay include the survivor’s lap, which is when survivor’s take a lap around the track. They are at one point on the track joined by their caregivers, to also recognize them. The survivors also received a salute from the Boy Scouts as they passed by.
    Other highlights include the luminary ceremony, which took place at night. That is when candles are lit in honor of someone fighting cancer or in memory of someone who lost their battle.
    “So many people have it ... and it’s good to raise money to find a cure,” said Cassandra Pagnotta, a survivor who was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma when she was three months old.
    Her mother, Vickie Pagnotta, said her daughter then endured many treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
    Now her team — Team Cassandra — is in its 16th year of raising money for the relay. She was officially diagnosed as cancer-free a few years ago.
    Cassandra Pagnotta walked with her grandfather, Umberto Pagnotta, who is also a cancer survivor.
    Also walking as a survivor was ten-year-old Aaron Baldwin. He was diagnosed with retinal blastoma when he was 17 months old. After a surgery that removed one of his eyes, he has been cancer free for nine years and is a fourth-grader at Herkimer Elementary School.
    “It raises money for a cure,” he said, on why he participates.
    Page 2 of 2 - His mother, Sue Baldwin, said she enjoys coming back to the event every year.
    “You get to see the survivors every year,” she said. “It’s like a family.”
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