TROY — Good weather provided the backdrop for what organizers are calling a successful 2017 Relay for Life event Friday evening into Saturday afternoon.
Relay for Life is an annual event that celebrates survivors’ victory over cancer and remembers those who lost their battles against the disease, while raising money for the American Cancer Society. The overnight event also celebrates caregivers, who support their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.
Kelly Hinderman of Team Honda said the overnight event seeking to raise funds to help find a cure for cancer was well attended. She said she believes upward of 1,500 people took to the Miami County Fairgrounds at some point during the relay, which had a theme of “Tune out Cancer.”
“It was the highest participation we’ve had in many years,” said Hinderman, who has lost several family members to cancer and just found out Wednesday that her mother has lung cancer and will begin treatment today. “We attribute the rise in attendance to the amazing weather. It was under a full moon and we walked and with lower temperatures.”
Hinderman said 35 teams participated in total — with 25 teams attending the event, walking and continuing fundraising efforts.
Organizers also surpassed their $100,000 goal over the weekend, Hinderman said. She said they began Friday night with $71,000 raised and to date have raised $118,833.86, following fundraising at the event and teams turning in their funds raised. She said fundraising for the 2017 campaign continues through August, so she expects even more money will be raised in the coming months.
Hinderman said events, such as Miss Relay and Little Miss Hope, not only entertain participants, but raise funds for the cause. She said organizers are always seeking ideas to improve the event. New this year was a Kids’ Zone, which included carnival games and prizes, and a Cardboard Car Show, Hinderman said.
“You’ve got to be creative; you can’t get stagnant,” she said. “You’ve got to keep the juices flowing.”
Hinderman said the DJ kept people lively throughout the night and a beautiful luminaria service reminded participants why they were there.
“The smiles is what you don’t expect. The smiles from ear-to-ear from people saying that they beat this thing,” she said. “It’s infectious.”
The 2018 event is not yet scheduled, but Hinderman said it will be at the same time of year, as this time has served the event well with good weather. Organizers also are considering including a car show in the next event, hoping to bring more men to the relay, she said.
“We’ll be brainstorming all summer,” she said.
Hinderman said she wants the community to know how much she, along with all the other organizers, appreciate the support they receive each year for such an important cause. From the person who donates to their work raffle, to those who have full teams bringing in thousands of dollars, everyone matters, she said.
“Thanks for the support, all the teams, everyone,” she said. “And, everyone up in Heaven looking down on us.”
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131