FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fellow cancer survivors Debbie Dwyer and Nora Turner will lead the ceremonial first lap of Relay for Life Fairfield 2013 as this year’s honorary chairs.
Dwyer, former director of the College and Career Center at Ludlowe, and Nora, a 2-year-old Fairfield girl, are both in recovery for different forms of cancer. Both also have been touched by the Relay for Life program in their recoveries.
Relay for Life Fairfield is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society at Fairfield Ludlowe High School. Teams sign up for an all-night walk around the school’s track to collect donations and offer support for cancer survivors.
Dwyer has been involved with Relay for Life since 2004, when she was an adviser to the Fairfield Ludlowe Key Club. She has encouraged students to return for the event even after they leave Ludlowe, and now says the event is “like a family reunion each year.”
“We see the same faces and welcome new faces of family and friends who are now dealing with their own cancer issues,” Dwyer said in a press release. “This event allows us to show everyone that we can beat this disease.”
Nora was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma when she was just 6 months old. Now the 2-year-old is receiving treatment and is able to play with her older sisters Grace and Whitney. But her doctors say she will continue to need treatments and regular tests until she is at least 5.
“We are looking forward to celebrating at Relay how far Nora has come and how special she is. We are also excited to be able to recognize Grace and Whitney for being such amazing caregivers,” Nora’s parent Sarah and Robb Turner said in a press release. “Relay has given us a way to thank our amazing community that has supported our family in ways we could not have imagined.”
The Turners also hope that Nora’s story will help raise awareness for the medical test that saved Nora’s life. Her cancer was discovered when she received a pediatric VEP Vision Test during a routine checkup shortly after the Turners moved to Connecticut from Minnesota.
Her former pediatrician did not even have access to the test, which at the time was only available at about 500 offices in the entire country. Since then the noninvasive test has become more widely available. It can also help detect other eye disorders at an early age. More information on the test is available online.
Relay for Life Fairfield 2013 is will run from 6 p.m. June 8 to 6 a.m. June 9. On-site registration will start at 3 p.m. Saturday.