The Courthouse Relay for Life at L.C. Bird High School last weekend raised more than $110,000 for the American Cancer Society and had more than 1,000 registered participants.
Allison Schooley, one of the event’s chairs, said $113,000 has been collected so far, but organizers think the total will pass $115,000, as money usually continues to come in after the relay. This year’s top individual fundraiser, Colin Wharton, raised just about $6,800, Schooley said.
Schooley said she became involved in the relay about 10 years ago when she lost her grandfather to cancer, and her interest was renewed recently when her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.
“My grandmother is now a survivor,” she said.
Relay for Life weekends usually begin with teams setting up campsites and tents around the track, since the event runs from Saturday night to Sunday morning, she said.
“It’s a very carnival-like atmosphere,” Schooley said. The event starts with an opening ceremony, she said, and the cancer survivors then take the first lap around the track. The caregivers join the survivors for the second lap, she said, and at that point the relay is underway.
Children’s activities, a kids’ walk, performances by bands, a silent auction, raffles and a lip synch contest are just a few of the relay’s activities. One of the highlights is the luminaria ceremony, where luminaria bags are placed in memory or in honor of people whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Several aspects of this year’s relay were in tribute to former L.C. Bird chorus teacher Margaret Gregory, who died unexpectedly on March 1. Gregory had been involved with the relay for years, Schooley said.
Everything at the event is about celebrating, remembering and fighting back, she said, and attendees take a pledge about how they’re going to fight back against cancer in the coming year.
“It’s definitely a great event for people of all ages,” she said. “It’s one of those, people always leave loving it. It’s a great community event where people come together and make a difference.”