The Fallon Relay for Life committee officially kicked off on Friday the 2014 season several months earlier than normal, but the intent, said organizers, is to have an extended fundraising period for the annual event.
Erin Entwhistle, community relationship manager with the American Cancer Society, is responsible for a handful of Relay for Life events in western Nevada; however, she said Fallon is not alone in having its first official event before the end of the year.
“Many of my relays want to hit the holiday season (for fundraising) with bake sales and arts and crafts shows,” Entwhistle said before the dinner and introductions began at the Wolf Center behind Epworth United Methodist Church. “We also want to be part of holiday bazaars.”
Entwhistle added that the various Relays for Life want to keep their name in front of the public and what better way to do it than during the busy holiday season. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s annual fight against cancer. Participants remember those who died from cancer and honor those who have fought the disease and won. More than 3,000 communities participate in the United States and its territories including Fallon Relay for Life events.
Once the night’s event began, however, event chairwoman Lacey Lehman said Fallon’s goal is $60,000.
“This is something we can definitely do,” said Lehman, who is serving her second season as chairwoman.
Lehman said about 30 percent of the money raised in the Fallon Relay for Life will stay in the community. She said local money assists cancer patients and their families to provide either lodging or transportation for individuals seeking treatment.
“The money raised by participants makes a difference in the fight against cancer,” Lehman added. “Dollars make a difference.”
Throughout the evening, Lehman and her committee members discussed the various roles the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life provides to both individuals and communities. She said the ACS is a national community-wide organization dedicated to fighting cancer and because of local volunteers, Lehman said their fundraising allows the ACS to make a difference in people’s lives.
Since the ACS was established 100 years ago, one out of 10 cancer patients survived; now that number has increased. According to the ACS website, the five-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67 percent.
Lehman, who became involved with Relay for Life six years ago because her father had cancer, said the ACS is also using the money for further studies into men’s prostate cancer and also helping women with cosmetic makeovers.
Lehman also introduced her committee members and what each person oversees. Lehman, though, said the first team meetings are slated after the New Year. The goal, she said, is to have 25 teams.
Two of the top fundraising teams are ready to go for the 2014 season.
Kaia F.I.T. raised almost $9,000 for 2013’s Relay for Life.
“We have so many women in the program affected by cancer, and they pulled together as a team,” said owner Andrea Schell. “It’s important to be part of the community, and it’s our way to give back to the community.”
As for Kaia’s fundraising success as the top team, Schell said she likes to win, especially with a cause like fighting cancer.
Karla Kent, president of the Fallon Rotary Club, said her team has been consistently one of the top fundraising groups during the past decade.
“We have a lot of members affected by cancer, and they know a lot of people who have had cancer,” Kent pointed out.
She said “catalysts” within the club have worked hard to involve the Rotary Club in Relay for Life, and as a result, the organization has donated money in the five-figure range.