Seven years ago, Elmar Stewart of Macomb was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Today, Stewart, 32, joins other cancer survivors and supporters to raise money and awareness in the 2011 Relay for Life of Chesterfield in late May.
A path to recovery, advocacy
Stewart said he never smoked or drank and led a healthy lifestyle. He believes that helped him fight through more than one year of chemotherapy followed by radiation treatments and a bone marrow transplant in 2007. By April 2008, he was officially in remission.
“Seeing people together is the best part," he said of the annual fundraiser in Chesterfield Township. "You can find support through others that show up to these events and I’m always open to offer guidance to anyone who needs it."
This will be the third consecutive year he participates in the event.
Ready set: Relay!
From 10 a.m. May 21 to 10 a.m. May 22, at least 16 teams and 120 participants will join the cause to be held at . After fundraising, participants will set up “camp” next to the track on the field. When the event kicks off, team members will take turns so that for the next 24 consecutive hours each team continually has at least one member walking on the track. For more information on Relay For Life of Chesterfield, visit www.relayforlife.org/chesterfieldmi.
Stewart said that he has seen as many as 500 individuals participate in the event. His team name is “Elmario,” a combination of Elmar and teammate Mario Vincencio, who is also a manager at Best Buy in Chesterfield. Stewart is working to get more teams involved this year. So far this year, close to $2,000 has been raised.
“Our goal is to spread the word that this event is approachable. It’s a relay for something that’s terrible but also a celebration of life. I wish for people to know that they are not alone, you can find support through these organizations," Stewart said.
The City of New Baltimore will also host a Relay For Life event with similar ceremonies planned from 10 a.m. May 14 to 10 a.m. May 15 at . So far the cause has drawn 36 teams, 350 participants and raised almost $28, 302. For more information, visit
Getting involved is easy
American Cancer Society staff partner Beth Collins is working with the Chesterfield event committee to welcome newcomers. She said that registration is simple and offers individual and team participants the opportunity to join in a variety of ceremonial celebrations and share their support.
“We’re going to fight it till we beat it,” Collins said. “That’s representative of why we’ll be walking around the clock, day and night.”
The family-friendly event is open to the public and feature live music and stage performances. Additional fund-raising opportunities will be take place on site and food and beverages will be sold as well.
Honoring survivors and those lost to cancer
Opening and survivor ceremonies for the Chesterfield relay will commence at 10 a.m. May 21 followed by an afternoon gathering where audience members will have the opportunity to pledge a healthy lifestyle change by writing a personal goal on a card and sharing it with the cancer society.
A luminaria ceremony will also take place at 10 p.m. Anyone who donates $10 will receive a paper bag to decorate in honor of someone who is currently battling cancer or who has passed on from the disease. Decorated bags will be lit and lined up around the track for a moment of silence during the ceremony.
“It’s the most moving part of relay,” Collins said. “A lot of people come out for that part.”
Other ways to support the cause
Can’t make it to the relay?
- of New Baltimore will hold a wine tasting event from 7-9 p.m. Friday, April 8 at in downtown New Baltimore to benefit the New Baltimore relay. Tickets cost $30 each, which include wine and appetizers. All proceeds will benefit American Cancer Society research and support to families and local cancer treatment centers.
- Fire House Lounge on Harper near Metro Parkway in Clinton Township will hold a fundraiser to benefit Relay For Life Chesterfield from 11 a.m. to midnight April 12. Supportive Soles Relay For Life Team will be awarded 10 percent of profits from the event.