In July 16 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
The 2009 Russell County Relay For Life raised nearly $63,000 for the American Cancer Society at this year's event, according to Brooke Cary, the American Cancer Society's community representative.
The Relay, which was given the theme 'Balloons, Tunes & BBQ: An Old Time County Fair,' took place on the track of the Russell Springs Elementary School this past Friday and Saturday to celebrate the lives of local cancer survivors and to remember those whom the disease has claimed.
"I'm extremely honored and proud by that amount," Cary said of the $63,000. "This is going to help so many cancer families and people need to understand, especially in today's economy, that this is phenomenal."
The local Relay For Life has until the end of August to try and meet their 2009 goal of $72,009, Cary said.
She said she has told people that whatever they are able and willing to give is enough, even if it is not as much as they were able to give in previous years.
"Every penny and every dime counts," she said. Cary pointed out that the money donated does help cancer patients in Russell County and all proceeds go to funding cancer research.
She said the American Cancer Society has helped cancer-stricken patients in this county by donating free wigs through their free wig program, helping with gasoline cards for those that travel for treatment, support groups and providing stay in the Hope Lodge in Lexington, Nashville or Cincinnati.
Over the past two years, eight Russell County cancer patients and their caregivers stayed 201 nights free at Hope Lodge saving them approximately $25,125 in motels bills, according to Cary.
Cary also said around 360 luminaria, or candle lanterns, honoring those who have battled the disease were lit around the school's track, creating a track of glowing lights. This also helped to light the relay track through the night for the Relay walkers, who took turns walking laps for a cure. There is continuous walking around the track for the entire event.
Participants also took part in numerous games and activities at the event.
Around 300 people trickled in and out of the Relay throughout the night, according to reports.
The 12-hour-event began at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 10, with a "survivor" dinner sponsored Russell County Survivor Chair Devin Edwards.
Fourteen active teams participated in the overnight event designed to celebrate cancer survivorship and raise money for research programs of the American Cancer Society, according to Cary.
She said the top fundraising team was Kathy's Grey Matters with more than $13,113. Second place went First National Bank with $12,075 while third place went to the Russell County High School Anchors of Hope with $8,373.
Carey said approximately 40 survivors registered for this year's Relay and joined in the night's walk of hope.
"This community really gets behind it and supports it," she said of the event. "Cancer patients and there families need that. They need to know that they're not alone."
She said that cancer knows no age difference and can affect anybody. She warned that people should regularly be screened for cancer, through mammograms, colonoscopies and other methods.
"Early detection is key in the fight," she said. "You know you're own body and if something says it is time to get a screening, do it."
Corporate sponsors for the event included the A & S Livestock/CPC Commodities, Commonwealth Cancer Center, First National Bank, Bank of Jamestown and Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital, according to Cary.
The Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society's signature activity and offers everyone in a community an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer, according to their Web site.
Anyone wishing to help out with next year's Relay For Life can contact Cary with the American Cancer Society's Somerset office at 606-678-0203.
Also to participate, form a team, or dedicate a luminaria at the local American Cancer Society Relay For Life, you can call 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org
According to Cary, Relay For Life has three main purposes: To celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, to remember loved ones lost to the disease and to fight back against the disease.
There is not a required amount of money to raise in order to participate in Relay For Life. The only requirement to participate in Relay For Life is the $10 registration and commitment fee that is due upon registration.
After that, anything you can raise through individual, team, or online fundraising is accepted, according to their Web site.
Cary wished to send a special thanks out to Leslie Hammer, the area director for the American Cancer Society, Mark Antle and Nona Wooten, event co-chairs, Alice Marcum, luminaria chair, Patti Lamb, accounting chair, Devin Edward, survivor chair and Tracey Antle and Clarissa "Moochie" Hart, who served as activities co-chairs as well as the Relay For Life of Russell County committee, teams, volunteers and the community for supporting this year's Relay For Life event.
Sherri Weisenflu of Hospice of the Bluegrass spoke at the Relay as well. Hospice of the Bluegrass received funding from an American Cancer Society grant for training.
In the 2008 fiscal year, the American Cancer Society served 22 Russell County cancer patients through the funds raised during events like the Relay For Life.
"We pretty much relay all year long because cancer doesn't stop," she said. "We will kick off our 2010 Relay this fall and we're always inviting people in the community to come on board, be it forming a team or serving on the planning committee."