Winthrop High School Athletic Director Peter Gobiel’s Relay for Life team, “For Pete’s Sake”, has grown to become the biggest team at the annual cancer fundraising event in East Boston.
His team this year, made up of over 200 Winthrop High students and former students, raised well over $5,000 for cancer research during last Friday’s event.
Gobiel, who was diagnosed with throat cancer five years ago but beat the disease, said he decided to get involved in the Eastie Relay for Life after witnessing one while on vacation in Florida.
“I was on vacation with my family in Naples,” Gobiel explained. “We were getting ice cream and you could hear this carnival atmosphere-type noise coming from down the street.”
Gobiel decided to check it out and learned it was Naples’ annual Relay for Life.
“I found out what it was and said that’s what I want to do to help,” he said.
Gobiel contacted the organizers of the event in neighboring Eastie.
“The two organizers show up and it turns out they were two former students from my high school health studies class,” said Gobiel.
The two former students, Eastie’s Relay for Life co-chair Tiffany LaCascia and Kristen Reed have been organizing the event for the past few years.
“So 4 years ago I did my first team,” said Gobiel.
Of his team’s size he said it’s pretty unusual to have such a big team for Relays.
“I’ve seen others with teams of 30-35 people so I think we are sort of out of the ordinary,” he said.
Gobiel said while his students help with some of the fundraising he brings them in order for them to experience the event.
“I want them to experience what Relay is all about,” he said. “A lot of the students have lost a grandparent or aunt or uncle to cancer so when it was time for the “Luminaria Ceremony” many kids got emotional, some shed tears so it makes the disease real instead of someone in front of the class teaching them about it.”
Gobiel added that former students that have gone off to college have started their own ‘For Pete’s Sake’ teams at other Relays across the nation.
“They have really gotten into it,” he said of the tribute.
The annual Eastie Relay for Life is an overnight event that features teams from Eastie and Winthrop that spend the night walking the track at East Boston Memorial Stadium to raise money for cancer. The event honors cancer survivors and remember those who lost their battle to the disease.
This year marked the 5th Annual Eastie Relay For Life and since its start in 2008 the event has raised over a $200,00 towards finding a cure for cancer.