Leukemia survivor stages Relay for Life

From left, Jon and Seleste Lucas walk with their son and cancer survivor, Nicolas Lucas during the first Relay for Life at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls on Saturday. The event was established by Lucas, who is a senior at Woodland. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

From left, Jon and Seleste Lucas walk with their son and cancer survivor, Nicolas Lucas during the first Relay for Life at Woodland Regional High School in Beacon Falls on Saturday. The event was established by Lucas, who is a senior at Woodland. -REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

BEACON FALLS — The first Relay for Life event of the year in the region — and the first one at Woodland Regional High School — was held Saturday afternoon.

Organizers had planned to move the event inside to the gymnasium and cafeteria due to the forecast of rain. That would have put a damper on the event, as there wouldn’t have been room for the vendor tents and disc jockey equipment.

But clouds did their part to help make the event a success. On Saturday morning, the chance of rain went down to less than 20 percent.

“It was amazing the changes that went on for the last 24 hours with the weather forecast,” said Dave Andros, senior manager for Relay for Life. “Outside, inside, back outside, as you can see.”

The first Relay for Life at Woodland Regional High School was the idea of student Nicolas Lucas, 18, a cancer survivor, who chose the event as his senior project.

“When he came home and said this would be his senior project, I was in shock because he didn’t really want to talk about what happened to him,” said his mother, Seleste Lucas. “When he decided to hold this, me and my husband were in tears.”

Nicolas was diagnosed with two forms of leukemia when he was in sixth grade.

“He made it through three days of sixth grade,” Lucas said. “He was off for the rest of the year.”

After undergoing four years of chemotherapy and a bone-marrow transplant, he has been in remission for six years.

Twenty-eight teams and 176 participants signed up for the Relay for Life at Woodland Regional High School. As of Saturday morning, the event had raised about $12,000 for the American Cancer Society.

“And it’s all because Nick Lucas pulled it together and made it work,” Andros said.

Relay teams ran around the high school track from about 4 p.m. to midnight, in honor of cancer survivors and caregivers.

“Every person here either knows someone with cancer, knows someone who had cancer, or knows someone who died from it,” said Gail Pells, an English teacher at Woodland.

Pells and her daughter both survived cancer — a total of three times.