Kevin Landesman began participating in the Greenwich Relay For Life four years ago after his brother Keith Alan Landesman, a cardiologist in Stamford, died of an unknown cancer. This year, Kevin has stepped up to the plate as co-chairman of the event, which raises funds for the American Cancer Society.
"I thought the event needed a fresh start," he said in his Brunswick Middle School classroom Wednesday, the program for his brother's wake pinned to the wall behind his desk. "My passion for fighting cancer, coupled with my need to remember my brother and never ending need to plan stuff, led me to this position."
For Landesman, a math teacher and cross-country coach at the private school, the hours and work put into planning the relay doesn't feel like a job. "It's something that makes a difference, and it's worth every hour," he said.
He said the relays have brought him and his sister-in-law Evelyn, the other co-chairman, closer than ever. The duo formed a team with friends and family called "Hole in One," named in honor of his brother, who was an avid golfer. The team raised $10,000 in last year's relay. This year Landesman said he hopes the combined total with other teams will reach $70,000.
"I see incredible potential for this event," he said. "I look at Greenwich, one of the wealthiest parts of the entire country, and I see how little money we've raised compared to much smaller areas of the country. ... I saw an opportunity to do something special."
This year's overnight relay, one of many held throughout the nation, will be held on the Brunswick School grounds beginning at 7 p.m. June 10 and ending the next morning. As the new co-chairman, Landesman said he hopes to bring more life to the event with the theme of "Celebration." Typically, said Landesman, the event dies down overnight. This time around, he wants to keep spirits high and momentum going with themed laps, constant entertainment and group activities.
"We're asking each team to decorate their 'campsite' according to a celebration of their choice, from birthdays to New Year's or Halloween," said Landesman. "During the overnight hours a lot of high school students and older team members leave or sleep. ... This year we want everything to be more active."
The Greenwich Relay for Life will hold its kick off meeting at 7 p.m. Jan 18 at Greenwich Town Hall. Kevin and Evelyn are looking for relay teams, volunteers and sponsors to help. Those interested should attend the meeting or call Aubrey Swift at 203-563-1527 for more information.
Have you ever taken part in the Relay for Life? What is the 24-hour walkathon like? Leave a comment below.