Planning begins for first Pinecrest Relay for Life

By Lee Stephens….

Pictured (l-r) are Ann Kashmer; Eileen Mazis; Debi Strochak, Pinecrest Relay chair; Debbie Rassner, and Dale Poster-Ellis.

After being diagnosed 12 years ago with Stage 3 breast cancer, Debi Strochak reached out to the cancer community through the American Cancer Society and participated in her first Relay for Life. Strochak became the survivor chair of the East Kendall Relay and has continued in that role ever since. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature event that aims to fight cancer. It is a grassroots event conducted in more than 5,000 communities across the country that offers an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer.

This year, Strochak has taken on a new role, after being approached by Village of Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and the American Cancer Society. A resident of Pinecrest, she has agreed to start the Pinecrest Relay for Life. Pinecrest, after being incorporated in 1997, has been building a sense of community; this was the next step for the village.

After agreeing on Evelyn Greer Park, named after the first mayor of the village, as the site of the relay, Strochak and Mayor Lerner have reached into the community in a grassroots effort to build Pinecrest’s Relay for Life, scheduled for Apr. 9, 2011.

“I am committed to the Pinecrest Relay and want to bring our community together,” Lerner said.

A kickoff party is taking place on Wednesday, Oct. 27.

Volunteers like Randi Trazenfeld, long time PTSA volunteer, and Buffy Heldt will co-chair the Relay’s Team Recruitment effort with the assistance of Nanci Hellinger, Lisa Montes, and Nancy Stein, soliciting businesses, organizations and schools for teams.

Dale Poster-Ellis has signed on as the Relay’s team development chair. Rita Schwartz, local business owner, as sponsor chair, is getting businesses committed to be sponsors for the event. Realtor and two-time breast cancer survivor Rebecca Forman is survivor chair and mentor.

Vanessa Dawson, wife of Baseball Hall of Fame member Andre Dawson, as well as the Buchwald, Bennett, and Ferenbach families, along with Jeff and Donna Benjamin, are involved in getting entertainment, including Benjamin’s band, the Eclectic’s, to make the Relay a fun event.

Lisa Montes also will chair the Luminary Committee, which sells luminaries to raise funds to fight cancer for the moving candle lighting ceremony to honor survivors or to memorialize those who fought the cancer battle. Finance chairs are Diane Preuss and Zerelda Spann. These volunteers represent a cross-section of the Pinecrest community at large and look to make this first Relay in Pinecrest a success.

Those who want to be involved in this grassroots community event to fight cancer by establishing a team, serving on a committee, committing to be a sponsor, can join the Kickoff Party at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 27 at Bargello Bistro in the Falls shopping center, 8888 SW 136 St. You will learn more about the Relay and meet your community partners that are working to make this relay a reality at this free event. There are opportunities for education, advocacy, fundraising, building a sense of community and, of course, having fun.

For more information go to or to register a team go to

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