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Relay for Life sets goal of $62,900

On the heels of an extremely successful effort last year, the annual Crawford County Relay for Life began its 2008 campaign last Tuesday night at Lincoln Hills United Methodist Church near English with an ambitious goal of raising at least $62,900.
Last year’s American Cancer Society fund-raiser had a goal of $35,100, but the effort, which concluded with the 24-hour Relay for Life at the Crawford County Junior-Senior High School track in June, brought in $54,200.
Returning co-chairs Carolyn Langill and Jenny Lang told team members and others gathered at last week’s kickoff that this year’s Relay — June 20 and 21 at the CCJSHS track — will have a theme of “Finding a Cure is Not Just a Fairy Tale to Us!”
“The fairy tale theme kind of opens it up for our teams to do something unique,” Langill said, encouraging team members to visit for ideas.
While the goal of Relay is to raise money and awareness, organizers have always wanted the event, which includes team campsites, participants walking various theme laps and plenty of entertainment, to be a fun time for families.
However, this year’s Relay will also incorporate the American Cancer Society’s new Relay motto: Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.
Relay has also always been a time of celebration and remembrance, and this year will be no different. The event will again feature a pre-Relay for Live survivor’s dinner and a survivor’s lap during the opening ceremony. Then, later in the evening, a luminaria ceremony will again be held in honor of survivors and those who have lost their battle with the disease. In addition, new this year, Relay will include a 24-hour slideshow of photos of survivors and those who have lost their lives to cancer.
“They did it at Perry County (last year), and they said it was very touching,” Lang said.
This year’s Relay will also tell participants and attendees what they can do to “fight back.” Becky Graff, a community representative with the ACS Jasper office, said since Relay has always tried to be more of a happy event and not so much focused on statistics, it has been difficult to include mission and advocacy initiatives. However, that’s changing, she said.
“ ‘Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.’ is going to become kind of a new identity for Relay,” Graff said.
Relay this year will include a “Fight Back” ceremony that will feature a field of white flags that represent those expected to be diagnosed with cancer during this year, she said. Persons in attendance will be asked to take a flag and commit to doing something to help “fight back,” such as volunteering to drive a cancer patient to the doctor, she said.
“Unfortunately, it will probably be a larger field than we would like,” Graff said.
Langill said this year’s Relay has a goal of 24 teams. That would be up from last year’s event, which featured 22 teams, five above the 2007 goal, she said.
“So, that’s where you guys come in,” Langill told those gathered, encouraging them to talk up Relay as much as they can to fill teams and start new ones.
As in the past, the kickoff recognized cancer survivors and caregivers in attendance. This year, the former were given “treasure candy bars because we treasure our survivors,” Langill said.
In addition, wanting to highlight mission and advocacy initiatives at the monthly team captain meetings, Langill asked Jeanie Melton, the coordinator of the ACS’s Road to Recovery program in Crawford County, to speak.
Melton said Crawford County has just one volunteer to drive cancer patients to doctor’s appointments, and while volunteers from other counties help out, more local volunteers are needed.
“It is more of a blessing to you than it is to them,” she said.
Melton said Crawford County will soon have another local driver, as Lang is going through the minimal training process.
“It’s very simple, very informative,” Melton said of the training. “It just kind of gives you an idea what to expect as a driver.”
Langill said there are other ways to get involved, particularly with the annual Relay, including serving on the planning committee or as a team captain or team member and volunteering at the ACS’s Jasper office.
Lang said she and Langill will speak during the Crawford County High School boys’ basketball home game on Feb. 16 to try to drum up support for this year’s event. Survivors, she said, are asked to wear their ACS Relay survivor shirts. Lang added that ice cream will be sold during the game to raise money for Relay.