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Defeating Cancer Is Relay Teen’s Goal

Posted in: Bourne News, Top Stories
By DIANA T. BARTH
May 9, 2008 - 11:18:23 AM
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     When Vincent Ciliberto was 26 years old, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. In February of 1999, when he was 30, he died.
     His daughter, Sandwich High School freshman Taylor Ciliberto is heading up a Bourne-Sandwich Relay for Life team this year because she “doesn’t want another kid to go through what I did.”
     This year’s relay, an American Cancer Society fundraiser, begins next Friday at Bourne High School’s Jackson Field.
     Taylor said she and co-captain Carly Tefft, as well as the 17 or so other SHS freshmen on Chumbawumbas relay team, have all known someone who has battled cancer.
     The Chumbawumbas recorded a song that has the words, “I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down!” That was Taylor’s father’s theme song when he was battling cancer. He would sing it when he was in chemotherapy.
     He was a strong, athletic guy who played baseball at Barnstable High School and Cape Cod Community College, said Taylor’s mother, Jennifer L. Ciliberto.
     Relay teams will be camping out overnight from Friday to Saturday next week, keeping at least one member of each team walking around the luminaria-lit track all night long. The Chumbawumbas’ campsite has a baseball theme. Taylor said the team plans to set it up complete with bases.
     The Cilibertos live in the Forestdale area, and Ms. Ciliberto said she is very aware of the number of cancer sufferers in her neighborhood. Her husband was a federal employee, working with the 102nd Fighter Wing on Otis ANG Base when he died, so she and Taylor, her only child, had a lot of support, both financial and emotional, before and after his death. People gave up their sick leave and vacation time for her husband, she said. Others she knows were not so lucky.
     Taylor was only in kindergarten at the time of her father’s death, so many of her memories of her dad are from stories and pictures, she said. But she remembers growing up without him very well.
     Ms. Ciliberto said she once found Taylor sitting in front of her computer in sobs, saying, “I hate cancer. I hate it. I hate it.” Taylor, her mother said, is adamant that she wants a cure found for the disease.
     Her mother supports her efforts, to the tune of $120 in pizza and soda for team meetings. “It’s worth it,” she said.
     Taylor has the team organized, a family member is helping with team T-shirts, and the group has already raised about $600 for cancer research, part of which was earned by standing in the rain at the Sandwich transfer station as part of a fundraiser.
     They have not yet reached their goal, however.
     The team is holding a car wash from 11 AM to 2 PM on Sunday, Mother’s Day, at the Cape Cod Cooperative Bank on Cotuit Road in Sandwich.
     Ms. Ciliberto is opening her home tomorrow evening, sponsoring a Mystery Hostess Party. Southern Living At HOME, Stampin’ Up, lia sophia, Tastefully Simple, and Arbonne are among the vendors that will be drawing lots during the evening to choose their own mystery hostess. All the proceeds from that night’s sales will be donated to the Chumbawumba team, while the mystery hostesses are awarded any hostess benefits. Those wanting more information can call the Cilibertos at 508-539-0309 or e-mail Ms. Ciliberto at jciliberto@msn.com
     Those wanting to donate online can visit the team’s website at main.acsevents.org/goto/chumbawumba.
     Taylor is not the only student organizing a team. Bourne High School and Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School also field several teams. Adult teams whose members represent churches, neighborhoods, or just groups of friends and families also take part in the annual fundraiser.
     The relay will begin next Friday at 3 PM, continuing through the night until noon on Saturday.
     The luminaria that will line Bourne High’s Jackson Field, sand-filled bags holding a candle, will each represent a person who has had cancer. Many are decorated in celebration of the life of a survivor or as a memorial to someone who has died of the disease.
     While that serious side of the relay is important, there will also be entertainment, games, and fun, along with recognition for the teams who have raised the most money for the cancer society.
     Day of event volunteers are always needed, so those with a few hours that weekend are asked to call organizer Shana Lundell at 508-221-5124.
     An integral part of the Relay For Life is honoring and supporting cancer survivors, who will be recognized on Friday.
     At 5 PM a Survivor Reception will be held at the Bourne Middle School. At 6 PM, survivors will take to the track at Jackson Field for an honorary lap.
     Cancer survivors who would like more information about the reception can call Lynne Helmuth at 508-759-5375.
     Local businesses that would like to become involved can call Wendy Hampton at 774-263-6181.