Middle Village Relay For Life raises $78K

Cancer survivors, caregivers, family, friends, prominent community figures, and even pets gathered in Juniper Valley Park on Saturday to stand up against cancer.

For the 19th year, the American Cancer Society hosted the Relay For Life of Middle Village, which honored locals who have been affected by cancer, as well as those who have donated to support the cause.

Collectively, the Middle Village Relay For Life raised well over $78,000 for cancer research, patient care programs, and other valuable resources.

The list of sponsors includes local businesses and organizations such as Maspeth Federal Savings, Kiwanis Club of Glendale, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, Move to the Melodie, Main Street Radiology, Cord Meyer Development Company, Ridgewood Moose Lodge 1642, and O’Neill’s Maspeth.
Maspeth resident Leslie Orlovsky of the American Cancer Society, who led the event, said that the overall goal of the Relay For Life is to support groundbreaking cancer research, to ultimately find a cure.

“I know a lot of survivors, and people who are close to me that have lost their battle to cancer,” Orlovsky said. “And I’m so thankful for the science and the recent breakthrough cancer research we have seen. I hope we are close to a cure.”

New York City Councilman Robert Holden was in attendance, and reminisced about the event’s past successes and celebrated the promising future for cancer research.
“I thank everyone who’s here and is keeping the faith. There have been great strides this year in the fight against cancer, with some major breakthroughs,” he said.

Since the event was held at the Multi-purpose Play Area/Field 8 of the park, it was much smaller than years past, but Holden said that he can “almost guarantee” that it will be back at the Juniper Valley Park track and field next year.

Melissa Alke-Sparnroft kicked off the event by sharing her cancer story with the crowd, which was followed by a series of walks and team laps around the track. There was also a relay, fun and games, a Zumba dance class taught by Melodie Mattes, and the Luminaria Ceremony in the evening.

Alke-Sparnroft, a resident of Ridgewood and a mother-to-be, is living proof that cancer does not discriminate.

Her journey began in 2018 when she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, and began going for yearly blood work and ultrasounds.

In 2020, she was due for her annual appointment, which got canceled due to the first COVID-19 panic.

In June of that year, Alke-Sparnroft found out she was pregnant with her first son, Jackson, but she had a stillbirth in October.

Right around Christmastime, she got the call from her doctor that she had papillary thyroid cancer.

“That just goes to show that cancer doesn’t care,” she said. “I ended up having surgery in February 2021 to get my thyroid and a few lymph nodes removed… I went into isolation for a week.”

Although it was one of the most difficult times in her life, Alke-Sparnroft is pleased to say that the medical procedures worked, and she and her husband will soon welcome a child into the world.

“I’m really thankful for science because without it, the researchers and the doctors would not have been able to basically find a way to cure this type of thyroid cancer,” she said. “You also really have to be your own advocate and use your voice. Go to your recommended cancer screenings. You have to take control and go to it.”

“When you’re in those really difficult times, you have to do what you can to keep moving forward,” she continued. “My personal motto is ‘Day by day, sometimes hour by hour, and sometimes it’s even minute by minute.’ You have to do what you can, holding onto some sort of hope for the future and moving forward.”

Middle Village Relay Kicks Off

Relay for Life Scheduled for Juniper Park in June

Senior Bank Officer at Maspeth Federal Kristen Sapienza with Leslie Orlovsky

The Middle Village Relay For Life began with a small, albeit passionate, band of a few dozen people who used the Juniper Valley Park Track for an “all-nighter campout” to raise awareness, and some money toward cancer.
A group of individuals made up teams with names like “Pin Heads” who were bowlers, and AK96, to solicit money for every lap around the track a team walked throughout the afternoon, night and morning on a weekend in June.
From its beginning 19 years ago, Maspeth’s own Leslie Orlovsky led the event for The American Cancer Society.
She and some volunteers engaged: Maspeth Federal, O’Neill’s, the Queens Ledger, Senator Maltese, the Glendale Kiwanis and Maspeth Moose Lodge.
That helped it grow from a dozen teams with 100 participants to a festival of luminaries, camp sites and music for 1,500 people with 75 teams, raising $220,000.
Since its inception, Middle Village has raised $2.6 million.
Last week, on March 2, the kick-off for the June 25 Relay for Life was held at O’Neill’s in Maspeth.
Fifty people attended: some cancer survivors, some who have family members afflicted and some who just want to be involved in an epic community event.
So far, the sponsors this year remain Maspeth Federal and include AllState/Kevin Spann.
To get involved call 347-675-5337.
To kick off the 2022 event, Relay Lifers Laura Hatton, Debbie Kuber, Marsha Fromowitz, Miguel Melendez and the Vegas were among those who spoke.
Maspeth Federal’s senior bank officer, Kristen Sapienza, announced a $10,000 donation from the bank to the Relay event.
There are a few meetings/events prior to the June 25 Relay for Life at Juniper Park. Team captain meetings are scheduled for March 24, April 19 and May 19.

Maspeth Federal donates $10,000 to Relay For Life

For the 17th consecutive year, Maspeth Federal Savings will be a corporate sponsor of the Relay for Life event in Middle Village.
“We are proud to support such an important cause and fight against a disease that touches so many people’s lives,” said Kristen Sapienza, senior bank officer and marketing supervisor. “The Relay for Life is an amazing event that not only raises funds for essential programs and patient services, but has also formed a community support system for anyone who has been affected by cancer.”
The event involves teams of taking turns walking or jogging through the night around the track at Juniper Valley Park. It will take place on Saturday, September 25. For this year only, there will be a “pop up” three-hour version of Relay For Life from 6-9 p.m. A festive atmosphere includes music and entertainment.
“Funds raised through Relay For Life help ACS fund and conduct breakthrough research, and give cancer patients and their families the resources they need, like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near hospitals, and a live 24/7 helpline for answers and support,” said Leslie Orlovsky, senior manager of Community Events with the American Cancer Society.
For more information or to register, call (347) 850-6868 or e-mail [email protected]

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