Cancer Society recruiting teams for 24-hour event to raise funds for research, support


February 05, 2001|By MARCY MISNER, Staff Writer

American Cancer Society organizers are recruiting team members for the society's Relay for Life fund-raising event and celebration April 20 and 21 at Southwest High School's track in El Centro.

The Relay for Life is a 24-hour celebration of life dedicated to cancer patients, their families and friends. It is the American Cancer Society's effort to put a face on the organization and to raise significant dollars for research and support.

Last year the American Cancer Society hosted the annual jail-a-thon for the last time. The Relay for Life will replace the jail-a-thon, said Relay for Life chairwoman Linda Shaner during a recent meeting of media and organizers for the event.

Each team, consisting of 10 to 15 members, will camp out for a day and always keep at least one person walking, running or otherwise moving on the track at Southwest during the 24-hour relay.


Around the track and in the middle, the other team members set up campsites and booths and participate in activities and have fun.

There are prizes for the best campsites, the most spirited team and the team and individual who raise the most money for cancer research.

According to spokesman Joselito Villero, there are 46 teams in some stage of organization for the relay.

Each team member is challenged to raise $100 in pledges and donations for the walk. Luminarias, or paper-bagged candles, honoring cancer survivors and those who died of cancer will be available for a suggested minimum donation of $5 and will line the track, Villero said at a recent meeting.

Society staffers and volunteers will have entertainment for young and old alike along with a breakfast and dinner and music.

Team captains Nancy Thornburg and Becky Deal have been meeting since November with organizers to recruit team members. They had a meeting Friday morning at Centinela State Prison with correctional staff, who likely will compete against Calipatria State Prison in the relay.

They and others have been talking to people in the community, many of whom don't yet know about Relay for Life.

"So I knew then we had this huge obstacle in getting the word out," Thornburg said.

Those organizing Relay for Life have said their goal is to raise $100,000.

Thornburg added, "What my goal is … I figure what we need is 100 teams."

She said if each team member on those 100 teams raises $100 that $100,000 goal can be met.

By comparison, the now-defunct jail-a-thon raised about $65,000 for the cancer society, Thornburg said.

Some challenges have already been issued between teams: Republican women challenged Democratic women, Government Agencies Federal Credit Union has challenged Valley Independent Bank and county Health Department employee Cindy Bass challenged other county employees.

As for the campsite competition, "Team Oasis" from Naval Air Facility El Centro has already chosen a Hawaiian theme for its encampment.

Campsites are assigned to teams as they register, so the best sites go early, Thornburg said.

Government Agencies, where Thornburg works, has four teams entered. One of GAFCU's team captains has lost a family member to cancer.

"So obviously we're really passionate about making a difference," Thornburg said.

The American Cancer Society is the largest source of private, not-for-profit cancer research funds in the country, second only to the federal government.

The society has invested more than $2 billion in cancer research.

Since the society's research grant program started more than 50 years ago, 30 funded scientists have gone on to win the Nobel Prize for their work.

Anyone interested in signing up for the relay can call the American Cancer Society at 352-6656.


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