FALLON RELAY FOR LIFE KICKS OFF 2015 SEASON

Melissa Williams ties Relay for Life balloons around a post in front of the Elks Lodge.

Melissa Williams ties Relay for Life balloons around a post in front of the Elks Lodge.

Fallon’s Relay for Life kicked off the 2015 season on Saturday with a sports-themed, taco dinner at the Elks lodge.

Coordinator Jennifer Woodcook begins her first season in directing the local Relay for Life. As she kicked off the dinner, Woodcook said she wanted those in attendance to think of the cancer survivors or “those who fight back.”

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 4 million people in more than 20 countries raise funds and awareness for the war against cancer, according to relayforlife.org.

Woodcook said this year’s Relay for Life will be held during the Father’s Day weekend and will include a chili barbecue cookout on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a great time,” she said of the activities planned for the event.

She also encourages those in attendance to form teams or find a team on which to participate.

Woodcook said she is hopeful the Relay for Life weekend will return to the middle school track. Because of construction last summer, the Relay for Life moved its activities to the high school.

Woodcook became interested with Relay for Life five years ago. She initially began as a participant and then became involved with the planning. So far this season, she said the Fallon Relay for Life had a fundraiser before Christmas and will have a crafts fair prior to Easter in March at the Old Post Office.

“We’re trying to revamp Relay for Life and not have the usual events every year,” Jennifer McCoy added. “We would like to bring the fun back.”

Erin Entwistle, community relationship manager with the American Cancer Society, oversees seven Relays for Life events in Northern Nevada including Fallon’s. She said for every dollar the American Cancer Society raises, its donates 73 cents to programs, services and research.

Entwistle said many communities saw their donations decline in 2014, but she hopes this year will usher in a rebound in fundraising.

“We were definitely down all over, and many of my communities stayed flat,” she said. “Money is tight, especially in the mining communities.”

According to Entwistle, she said giving is also down in other organizations. One factor leading to this may be that donors are concentrating their giving to specific organizations rather than to many groups.

Entwistle said she would like to re-educate residents on how Relay for Life benefits Churchill County.

“Cancer is nondiscriminatory,” Entwistle said. “It doesn’t care about age, race or religion.”

One of her goals is to educate older women on the necessity of getting a mammogram, and for men to regularly get prostate examinations.

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