By Wendy Holdren
Raleigh County Relay for Lifers are hoping to raise $110,000 this year to “finish the fight” and find a cure for cancer.
“We’re going to have a great year,” 2014 event chair Diana Walker said during the Relay for Life kickoff meeting Monday evening.
“Last year we raised $90,502 and our goal is $110,000 this year.”
Walker has been with Relay for seven years and she got started because her mother and her nephew battled cancer.
“I felt compelled to join, like God was leading me here. I’ve been addicted ever since,” Walker said.
Pat Davis, a previous chair and a Relay for Life participant since 2002, laughed and said, “There is no immunization for the Relay bug.”
She said money raised at Relay goes toward research, service, education and advocacy — all of which will hopefully lead to more birthdays for those who are diagnosed with cancer.
Walker said if 50 teams sign up, and they all raise $2,000, their goal can easily be met.
“Some teams do more and some do less, but if team captains push for that, we can do it. It’s a team effort.”
Sarah Robertson agreed that Relay is all about teamwork.
“One person can’t do Relay. It takes everyone working together.”
Robertson is in charge of online efforts this year, promoting Relay events and fundraising through social media.
She also works at the American Cancer Society, located at 921 West Neville Street, which is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
She said many resources are available for cancer patients and caregivers, and all their resources are free of charge.
“We offer wigs for chemo patients, we have specialty bras and breast prosthetics for breast cancer patients, and we also offer the Look Good Feel Good program,” Robertson said.
She said this year she plans to focus the website on more Raleigh County-related activities instead of just the national Relay for Life feed.
Representatives from many Relay teams came Monday to the kickoff meeting, some of whom were cancer survivors themselves. They shared their stories of loss and survival.
“There’s a lot of hope at Relay,” said Melanie Meachum, a staff partner for the American Cancer Society.
She said cancer patients can connect with others who have been diagnosed during Relay in a way that other people can’t understand.
“It is about the money and the dollars raised, but it’s also about the experience,” Meachum said.
“People need positivity on their journey. When people ask you why you Relay, don’t be afraid of that question... You save people’s lives.”
She shared several stories about family members who struggled with cancer and she reminded everyone to be proud of what they have done with Relay.
“We are going to find a cure. Let’s finish this fight.”
For more information about Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org.
For more information about how to join the Raleigh County Relay, call 304-252-5521.
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