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Board plans to start early for Relay 2011

An earlier start on team recruitment and sponsorship commitments is on tap for next year’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life in Butler County.

The county’s Relay board members met and discussed what worked and where changes needed to be made concerning the annual event, the ACS’s signature fundraiser.

“I think if we start signing up teams in October and November, by the time we have our official kick-off in January, we can have teams there to participate and generate more excitement,” said Relay chair, Galahad Smith.

While the number of teams was down slightly this year, more people stayed to watch both Relay Idol and the womanless Miss Relay pageant.

“We also had more people entering both contests. And there were some really talented folks who performed,” Gerri McGinnis, Activities chair, said. “We tried to keep something going at all times and people seemed to be entertained.”

Local talent Steve Norman, who sang and performed on the guitar, also proved a crowd favorite.

With a certain number of folks attending the annual event who are not survivors, committee members or part of a team, Smith said he hoped the board would take a serious look at having a group, possibly one of the Relay teams, make use of the concession stand at the YMCA to sell food.

“We could start small. If what is offered sells out, then we will know to plan for more the next year,” Smith said.

Luminaria chair Ethelyn Watson reported a total of $5,526.36 raised through donations for Luminarias and Torches of Hope, down approximately $300 from last year. “I think we want to get those letters out earlier and make sure Luminaria forms go out in every envelope as some got overlooked this year. And those mailed forms are a major source of contributions for us, ” Watson said.

According to Smith, the event earned some accolades from outside the county.

“Sunshine Tent Rentals, who supplies tents for Relays across the southern part of the state, said the Butler County Relay was by far the best organized. And the area director for the ACS was at our Relay for several hours and told us it was the best one she had attended in this area,” he said.

Because some Relays across Alabama have fallen far short of their goals ($50,000 to $80,000 less than anticipated in some cases), Smith said local Relay boards were being asked to organize another small-scale fundraiser to help make up the difference.

“I know the American Cancer Society had to lay off about 20 percent of their employees, and may have to cut some services. We want to do our part, but I also explained we don’t want to be fundraising year-round. People do get burnt out after a while,” he said.