|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Friday, 17 September 2010 00:00|
The crowd may have not as been as big as organizers would have liked, but it didn’t stop people from keeping the energy level up Friday, Sept. 10, as Camp Verde came together to celebrate the town’s third annual Relay For Life.
More people did start to show up over time, and the people who have worked hard for relay all year spent the night walking a makeshift track at the town’s soccer field.
Camp Verde’s relay is just one of thousands of such events held annually across the country and internationally, and collectively they represent the largest source of donations for the American Cancer Society.
The fundraiser started in 1985 when just one doctor in Washington state, Gordon Klatt, walked around a track for 24 hours straight. People started coming out to join Klatt’s walk and before long, Relay For Life was born.
The society estimates Relay For Life has brought in around $3 billion in donations over the past quarter-century to help researchers find a cure, and to help those diagnosed with cancer and their families deal with the consequences of the disease.
Of course, the all-night event is just the end to months of fundraising. Most of the money is collected by teams of people who work together against the other teams in the spirit of a little friendly competition.
This year, the local Camp Verde teams were able to raise more than $10,000, event co-organizer Lathana Fulton said.
Particularly impressive was the work of 6-year-old Madison Vines, who raised more than $1,100 of that figure by herself.
“We’ve gone international with the event in several countries, and that’s a feat we’re proud of,” said Tim Carter with the ACS in Flagstaff. Carter said the event’s slogan, “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of Relay.
“We want to celebrate those who have survived, we want to remember those who lost their fight against cancer and we want to fight back, all night long,” Carter said.
It’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in one way or another, event co-organizer Karen Conover said, whether they’ve been diagnosed themselves or know someone who has.
It was a message that hit especially close to home for one fundraising team. Cathi Fringer, who had worked to raise money with the Choices 4 Life team, lost her battle with cancer last month. A special ceremony in honor of Fringer was held later in the night, along with the luminaria lighting ceremony. Luminarias are traditional Mexican lanterns, consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag. The glowing bags lined the track in honor of those who have fought cancer.
However, Fulton and her fellow organizers like to point out, relay isn’t just about remembering sad memories. It’s supposed to be a good time, which is why the crowd had some help in its all-night mission by a DJ and a series of live musical acts. There were also sandwiches, coffee and cotton candy to keep the energy level up.
One fellow decided to play the actual part of cancer, dressed in a protective body suit and charging people a buck to kick him.
The survivors also played a big role in the event. After serving as the guests of honor at a special dinner, they took to the field for the first lap to enthusiastic applause. Then came the caretakers, a group Conover said were a special kind of heroes.
Ultimately, organizers of this event and others like it hope that eventually they’ll never have to hold another relay again. But until a cure is found, they’ll soon be busy getting back to work planning next year’s event.