Relay for Life of South Dade Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary

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Relay For Life of South Dade celebrates its 10-year anniversary and announces that Doral Automotive Group will be the presenting sponsor for its ShamROCK In The Park on March 14, 2020, in Coral Reef Park. The annual fundraising event raises money for the American Cancer Society (ACS) mission of saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer.

As part of the 10-year celebration, Relay For Life of South Dade welcomes back its first event chair, Debra Strochak, as this year’s honorary chair.

“Having been asked to return this year as the honorary chair is one of the most humbling and empowering opportunities for a survivor,” said Strochak.

A stage 3C breast cancer survivor, Debra was given a three to five-year life prognosis in 1999 following her treatment and surgery.

“I’m still here,” Strochak explained profoundly. Next February will mark 22 years since her initial diagnosis, and throughout that time she has been tirelessly instrumental in ACS initiatives in South Dade.

Since joining the fight against cancer with ACS, Debra has also seen many friends lose their battle, including a dear friend Sandy Paster.

“Sandy was the ultimate relayer,” said Strochack of her late friend. “She organized the first Kendell Relay For Life and I joined her and we became very close dear friends because of many years of Relay together. Sandy didn’t even have cancer when she started, she was doing it to honor her uncle, but then after three bouts of ovarian cancer, she lost her battle.”

Debra went on to start Relay For Life of South Dade and held the first in 2009 with the help of Cindy Lerner and the entire Pinecrest community. Ten years later the ShamROCK In The Park now unites eight communities in the fight against cancer, including Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, Homestead, Perrine, Richmond Heights, South Miami, and Coral Gables.

“Each year Relay For Life of South Dade gets bigger and better, and I’m not talking about the amount of money we raise, I am talking about the people and bringing together as many people as possible to come out and spend the time together in our community.”

Just like Debra, all ACS Realy for Life of South Dade organizers are volunteers, and utilizing their free time to create awareness and make this year’s relay a success.

“I am committed to the relay because it is truly a community event,’ said Strochak. “It’s personal, and as a survivor, you can come to it for free and leave feeling like a million dollars from the love and support of the community,” said Strochak.

ShamROCK In The Park offers an afternoon full of music, food, arts and crafts, and family activities while supporting the ACS mission of celebrating lives, saving lives and leading the fight for a world without cancer.

“We are so very grateful for the support of the Doral Automotive Group as the 2020 presenting sponsor and for Roasters’ N Toasters who will once again be donating the survivor dinner as they have for the past 15 years,” said Strochak.

The festivities will begin at 2 p.m. on March 14, 2020, and include a celebration of cancer survivors, supported by their families, friends, and doctors, as they walk the survivor lap of the relay. The night will end with a luminaria ceremony to honor a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer, or support for a person still fighting the disease.

“It’s strength in numbers,” said Strochak. “The goal now is to get the word out to our surrounding communities and encourage others to start their own team, join a team or become a sponsor. Every person and every dollar counts.”

It’s true when they say that when you give to the ACS, you are attacking cancer from every angle. Debra Strochak and fellow survivors are testaments to that and encourage the community to do whatever they can to help save more lives from cancer.

“The ACS does so much, including education, recovery, transportation, research, housing, mamograms, and the list goes on,” said Strochak. “It’s a big organization with a direct impact.”

If you are interested in sponsorship opportunities or starting a team, please email

Amie.Jacobitti@cancer.org,

For more information about ACS Relay For Life of South Dade, please visit www.RelayForLife.org/SouthDadeFL or follow on Instagram at @relayforlifesouthdade.


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