Mel Foremaster has become an ardent supporter of the Relay for Life event, a yearly celebration that recognizes cancer survivors while raising money to help those afflicted with the disease and to find a cure to wipe it out.
As the annual weekend event began to end, Foremaster said he reflected on the number of people in his life who have fought cancer — some losing the battle but many more conquering the unwanted invasion in their bodies.
“I’ve lost family members or had family members who survived cancer,” said Foremaster, whose wife faced her own struggles six years ago. “Barbara was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, and within a four-month period six family members were diagnosed with cancer.”
Those events from 2008 made Foremaster made the Fallon resident a true believer in helping Relay for Life each year, whether through his affiliation as Fallon Rotary Club member or as a volunteer.
With the various activities occurring in Fallon during the weekend, Foremaster said he noticed participation was down from previous years.
Yet, he remembers the good events.
“We had three really good years where we raised more than $50,000 in fundraising, a very amazing number for a community this size. This event has done well.”
Even last year with donations struggling to reach the yearly goal, Foremaster said the Fallon event still won an award for per capital fundraising for a community its size.
“There is still a lot of spirit in hanging in here and keeping it going,” Foremaster said.
While the Relay for Life has as many as 30 teams, about half the number participated this year. The teams involved during the weekend, nevertheless, “gave it their all” according to Lacey Lehman, event chairwoman. Team Rotary, for example, raised $4,240.
“Our teams are amazing with the job of actively fundraising and participating,” she pointed out.” This embodies the Relay spirit.”
Since the Great Recession in 2008 made people more cognizant of their money and donations, Lehman acknowledged this has been much harder to receive donations or to get people involved with the various committees or teams.
“It’s tough with the economy,” she said, adding it’s difficult for people to experience the event when they are also struggling.
Another possibility to build the Fallon Relay for Life infrastructure is to include volunteers of all ages.
“I think we need to reach out to youth more,” she said, noting that older adults seem to have more life commitments.
One young person trying to make a difference is 15-year-old Lizzy Carter, a high-school sophomore. Without any team affiliation, Carter walked her neighborhood, knocking on doors asking for donations or selling tickets for a hunting trip. She also set up a small table at Walmart to solicit donations.
“I like to do stuff like this,” she said, “by making a difference in our world.”
Lehman said local Really for Life events seem to go through cycles — peaks and valleys— with six or seven good years followed by rebuilding years.
Although the Relay for Life earned about $35,000 toward its $60,000 goal, Lehman said donations continually come in during the year.
Because of construction at the middle school, Relay for Life had to relocate to the high school. Although Lehman said the facility is beautiful, it has its pros and cons. With the field blocks away from any major street, Lehman said they did not receive the foot traffic as they did at the middle school.
Walgreens store manager, Nathan Crary, said the event faced many challenges this year, but the turnout was decent.
“I would like to see it back at the middle school,” he said. “We get more foot traffic there, and the high school is out of the way.”
Crary said Walgreens enjoys the challenge of Relay for Life and wants to make a difference in our world.
“We enjoy being part of this,” he said. “This is our one big community event.”