Relay For Life tops #036;100,000 goal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

The weather turned downright chilly but the total still soared.

The Butler County Unit of the American Cancer Society’s Annual Relay For Life easily surpassed its $100,000 goal last weekend.

&uot;We have raised more than $106,000, which is just terrific,&uot; RFL Chair Joan Reynolds said on Monday.

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After months of bake sales, raffles, yard sales and other fundraisers, 35 teams from across the city and county came together at the Butler County Fairgrounds last Friday night.

It is estimated more than 2,000 people showed up for the annual event.

&uot;Turnout was tremendous,&uot; said Reynolds.

Team members enjoyed cookouts, team competitions, activities and walks around the track as they fellowshipped together, all the while raising community awareness of the dreaded disease.

Dozens of cancer survivors in their signature purple T-shirts held hands, flashed smiles at onlookers and occasionally pumped triumphant fists in the air as they made the annual Survivors Walk around the track early in the evening.

Those who did not survive the ravages of the disease were also remembered during the evening’s somber Luminaria Ceremony.

As the luminaries glowed in the darkness and quiet of the unseasonably cool May evening, the Rev. Joe Lisenby and the Rev. Randy Harville called out the names of those who had succumbed to cancer.

Madelyn Reynolds, 7, granddaughter of Joan Reynolds, sang the Lord’s Prayer during the ceremony, while Miss Greater Greenville 2005 Christen Clarke performed inspirational songs such as &uot;The Wind Beneath My Wings.&uot;

Ethelyn Watson, Luminaria Chair, said $5,200 was raised through donations for luminaries in the county.

While Relay focuses on a serious subject, cancer, there were also many light-hearted moments to enjoy during the annual event.

As usual, the annual &uot;Mizz Relay&uot; womanless beauty pageant drew a huge crowd of spectators who laughed and cheered on the &uot;glamorous&uot; contestants.

John Allen Bates, a.k.a. Josephine, took top honors wearing a charming sundress and straw boater ensemble.

Bates and the runners-up also passed the Relay buckets around and encouraged supporters to put those dollars in. The &uot;bucket passing&uot; raised an additional $800 for Relay.

&uot;Raising that much money was absolutely great,&uot; said Activities Chair Laurie Martin, who said she was &uot;very pleased&uot; with how the evening’s entertainment schedule went.

A new addition to the line up of activities this year was the Relay Idol Contest. Several talented vocalists performed in this competition. Ultimately, it was Brittany Singleton’s a’capella performance of &uot;Amazing Grace&uot; that earned her the title of 2005 Relay Idol.

Other competition winners included the Bunco Babes team as winner of the scavenger hunt; Sandcutt Community Team, volleyball champions; the Bunco Babes, ski walk winners and Overall Cook-off Competition Winner, People’s Bank and Trust.

Most Original Campsite went to the Peoples Bank team with second place going to the Bunco Babes.

&uot;This is really exciting,&uot; said Jill Stallworth after her very pumped-up Bunco Babes team took the ski walk championship.

&uot;This is our first Relay and we are really having a lot of fun – and we raised a lot of money with our food sales,&uot; she added.

Raising dollars to help support cancer patient services and fund cancer research is the ultimate goal of the annual Relay For Life.

The top fundraising team this year was Wal-Mart, and top fundraising team per capita was First Baptist Church of Greenville. The top individual fundraiser was Paul Parker, a member of International Paper’s team.

Wal-Mart, which served as the Event Sponsor, also took the Spirit of Relay Award.

In Top Fundraising Teams sized 0-15 members, 1st place went to First Baptist Church of Greenville; 2nd place to Mount Zion Missionary Baptist and 3rd place to Comfort Care Hospice.

In teams with 16-30 members, 1st place went to Winn-Dixie; 2nd place went to Peoples Bank and International Paper (the Luminaria Sponsor) came in 3rd place. The top (and only) team in the 30-plus members category was Wal-Mart, which raised more than $10,000.

&uot;We also have a competition between the schools and their teams,&uot; said Teams Co-Chair Rebecca Richardson. First place among schools went to Greenville Middle School; 2nd place honors went to R.L. Austin in Georgiana, while Greenville Elementary School took 3rd place, said Richardson.

McKinley Tires donated a set of four Michelin tires and installation that were raffled off for $2 a ticket with all the proceeds going to the RFL. Lisa Huggins, a teacher at Greenville High, was the lucky winner.

Reynolds believes the entire team of volunteers can take pride in a job well done.

&uot;We feel like we had a really successful Relay; we surpassed our goal and things went really well,&uot; Reynolds said.

The local ACS board and committee won’t be resting on their laurels for long, however.

&uot;After a couple of months we will start working on Relay for next year,&uot; Reynolds said. &uot;We have some new ideas we want to put into play and we will also be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Relay here in Butler County next year. We are looking forward to another great Relay in 2006.&uot;