The battle against cancer has a new base in Mill Basin.
The Relay for Life cancer charity celebrated its second year in Mill Basin on Saturday with its annual party and cancer walk, which was bigger and more profitable than ever — thanks to this year’s Bergen Avenue venue, the John Malone Community Center.
“I think this is the future spot for Relay in the neighborhood,” said Mill Basin’s Relay for Life organizer Joe Gillette.
Gillette’s cancer-fighting accountants are still busy tallying up the cash, but Gillette is confident the event raised $70,000. He attributes much of that success to the new venue’s location, which is more central than the Aviator Sports and Event Center on Flatbush Avenue, where the event was held last year.
“We were smack in the middle of the neighborhood,” said Gillette. “It definitely had a bigger turnout, and families were walking in off the sidewalks.”
There were even more attractions and events at this year’s cancer-pounding party, including a cake contest officiated by celebrity judge and Brooklyn Daily columnist Carmine Santa Maria, who, either out of due diligence or simply a love of pastries, ate two servings of every cake entered in the contest before choosing a pineapple upside down cake as the best in show.
“It was extremely moist,” Santa Maria, known to thousands of Courier Life readers as the Big Screecher, said. “Delicious.”
High-stakes pastry action aside, the martial arts masters from JSKA Karate School showed up to provide some free self-defense tips, and the fellas from Best Buy came with Xbox 360s and big-screen TVs to keep the kids occupied, lest they get tired of all the sunshine and fresh air.
The event, which managed to sneak in a late-night Zumba class that lasted from 10 pm to 1 am, was capped off by the luminary ceremony, which was led by bag piper John McCarthy as the relay walkers solemnly strode amidst rows of bagged candles illuminating the names of people who haven fallen to the malignant disease.
“We were able to get John, who led the walkers as the candles were lit,” said Gillette. “It was very stirring.”Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cn