Not 8 Tuff Miles — Relay for Life is A Community and Family Event, Not a Race


With February 19 inching ever closer, organizers of the first ever St. John Relay for Life continue to add exciting events to the night’s activities, but some Love City residents are still not clear on the day’s intention.

While Relay for Life is the premier American Cancer Society fund raising event, the event is not a race, explained Mary Bartolucci, St. John Relay for Life event chair.

“Relay for Life is not a race and is not even an athletic event, it is a family, community 18-hour event,” said Bartolucci. “The theme is that cancer never sleeps, which is why the event goes through the night. It started years ago when a physician did a continuous jogging event in order to raise money for cancer research.”

“This is not 8 Tuff Miles,” Bartolucci said. “Someone from the team just has to be on the track at all times.”



The event, which starts at 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 19, at the Winston Wells ball field, features teams of between 12 and 15 participants, who each raise a minimum of $100 for the American Cancer Society. During the event, one team member must be on the track at all times, whether walking, jogging or running.

The event kicks off at 4 p.m. with an opening ceremony followed by survivors taking to the track for the first lap. Relay for Life focuses on celebrating survivors and fighting back against cancer, explained Bartolucci.

“A survivor is anyone who has ever been told ‘You have cancer,’ whether they are in treatment or have finished treatment or not,” she said. “They do the first lap and after that the teams take over with one person from each team on the track at all times.”

Survivors are also in for a treat with the Relay for Life survivors dinner, which starts at 6 p.m. All survivors and one caretaker each, should sign up for the dinner, which is going to be quite a feast.

“It’s going to be a beautiful gourmet dinner,” said Bartolucci. “We have Ted Robinson, from Ted’s Supper Club, Alex Ewald from La Tapa, the guys from La Plancha del Mar and Zozo’s each doing courses.”

At 9 p.m. the night turns emotional with the lighting of luminaries, which are lit in honor of those who have lost their battle with cancer, those who continue to fight and those who have beaten the disease.

The luminaries are lit at 9 p.m. and will be arranged on the bleachers to share a special message with the Relay for Life crowd.

The entire night will be full of games, events, children’s activities and great music for all ages. Philip “Grasshopper” Pickering is helming the entertainment committee, so participants can expect the very best of island entertainment.

A stunning show by Cirque-Tacular is sure to be a highlight of the evening, Bartolucci added.

“The Mongoose Merchants Association is sponsoring Cirque-Tacular, which is an amazing aerial troop,” said the Relay for Life event chair. “We’ve never seen anything like this on St. John. It’s going to be an amazing show.”

Music and activities will take participants through the night until the event wraps up at 10 a.m. with a closing ceremony.

While many aspects of the event have already been covered, Relay for Life organizers are still looking for sponsors, explained Bartolucci.

“The community can help out by forming teams, and providing donations and sponsorships,” said the event chair. “We need to find accommodations for the Cirque-Tacular performers, who just need two bedrooms for four or five nights.”

United Airlines is providing transportation for the performers, Rocky Coast has offered discounted T-shirts which Skinny Legs is buying for all teams and volunteers. St. John Market, which is opening a new deli, is providing food for the volunteers, explained Bartolucci.

Survivors should register for the survivors’ dinner by emailing Beverly Biziewski at or Elaine Estern at

For more information, or to donate or volunteer, check out the St. John Relay for Life website at or call Bartolucci at 774-1484 or 642-1629.

The group is also Facebook, to sign up and become a fan.