Making noise, fighting back

Relay for Life of the Highlands is this weekend

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  • The Search and Rescue Team at the Relay is, from left back row,  Stephen Keil , Michael Joy and Max Woehle. Front row, Ken Cuneo, Katherine Cuneo, Nicole Carlo, Joe Brown, Marcia Deleeuw and Bruce Buttery.

  • Kori DeSenzo walks in the Relay for her dad, Bob Greig, a cancer survivor.

Relay for Life of the Highlands
Sat., May 31, 2 p.m. to Sunday, June 1, 5 a.m.
West Milford High School track
67 Highlander Drive, West Milford
Visit to learn more, donate, sign up or dedicate a luminaria
Scheduled events:
2 p.m. - Opening Ceremony followed by survivor lap, care giver lap and teams' first laps
10 p.m. - Luminaria Ceremony
2 a.m. – Fight Back Ceremony
5 a.m. - Closing Ceremony


The Relay for Life of the Highlands is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, May 31. Its West Milford’s time to take action, to fight back against cancer, to honor survivors and care givers and remember loved ones lost. It’s about raising funds for the American Cancer Society and its on-going efforts to eradicate a disease that has touched many lives.

There are many personal reasons why people get involved with the Relay, either by participating in the event or by financial contributions, or both. In the final analysis it’s of little consequence why they care, it’s just important that they care. The end result is the support of a critical fund raising effort.

Kori DeSenzo and Pe-Pa’s Posse team

West Milford resident Kori DeSenzo, her husband Anthony and her children Jordin, 16, and Nicholas, 13, are all on the Pe-Pa’s Posse team. The team boasts 50 individuals who will do more than talk the talk – they will walk the walk. Two very special team members are DeSenzo’s parents. Her dad, Bob Greig, is a multi–cancer survivor.

Greig was diagnosed with stage three stomach cancer in 2010. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy and surgery. In 2012, he had surgery for stage one lung cancer. DeSenzo describes her father as a strong-willed, well-loved gentleman of 70 years.

“He was amazing through the whole thing. He had courage, faith, hope and determination and he fought really hard,” she said.

DeSenzo, 44, is the captain of Pe-Pa’s Posse. The sizable team, in its second year, is made up of friends and family ranging in age from 5 to 85 years of age.

While she participates in the Relay for her dad, there have been others in her life who have fought cancer.

“Before, I always had empathy but I didn’t understand it fully until dad had cancer; seeing it first hand, being there every step of the way – people in the trenches, they know," DeSenzo said. "But this is also a celebration that he’s here with us and it’s about supporting others still fighting.”

Her parents are quite involved, attending Relay meetings, doing whatever they can to help. They raise funds in their hometown of Pompton Lakes.

“My parents love it and it’s a huge part of all our lives," she said. "I didn’t realize how important it would be for our healing, growth and faith, how much it would help.” While Greig’s recovery has amazed his doctors, his daughter is equally surprised at the love and support the Relay provides.

“I’m glad we got involved, it has meant a lot to my whole family,” she concluded.

Michael Joy and West Milford Search and Rescue team

Michael Joy, 47, is a life-long township resident. His wife, Karen, and their children, Michelle Lynn, 19 and Jon, 23, are all part of the West Milford Search and Rescue team. Joy and his daughter are members of the volunteer Search and Rescue team in town and now the family has taken up the battle against cancer by participating in the Relay for Life. They not only walk the miles and stay up all night at the track but they have also taken on leadership positions: Jon is a co-chair of the event, Michael is the logistics chairperson, responsible for parking, peripheral vendor set ups and the tent city, Karen is the accounting chairperson and Michelle is the survivor and activities chairperson.

This is year five for the team. Joy’s first contact with the Relay came about when he stopped by to support his niece’s team. When the family saw what it was about, they all got on board.

They have lost some family members to cancer and he mentioned their former babysitter, a second grandma to his children. The Relay gives them the opportunity to honor her memory.

“The main object is to have someone on your team walking the entire time. Your team has to be big enough to give people a break,” Joy said.

He spoke about the Luminaria Ceremony and the impact of seeing the names of people affected by cancer on so many glowing bags encircling the track and the Fight Back Ceremony at 2 a.m., keeping people on their feet and reminding them why they are there.

“Everybody knows someone, somewhere down the line who has been touched by cancer and the more people you can get to show up, the more money will be raised. You get to see a lot of people from town that you didn’t know were involved. It just makes you feel good,” Joy said.

Fight back, West Milford

The Relay is about people coming together, walking the track or financially supporting the event. It’s about caring people taking one step at a time, giving one dollar at a time, one encouraging hug at a time, giving one moment of thanks, spending one moment recalling a lost loved one.

Perhaps the day will soon come when one moment of discovery will banish cancer forever.

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