Relay for Life will last longer
The next American Cancer Society Relay For Life, scheduled for June 1, 2012 at Bedford County Agriculture and Education Center, will have a change in schedule, moving from a 12-hour to an 18-hour format.
Local relay committee chair Samantha Chamblee made the announcement Saturday during an open house at H.V. Griffin Park which served as both a wrapup and awards ceremony for the 2011 event and a kickoff for the 2012 event.
Although the actual Relay event was held in June of this year, teams and individuals could continue fundraising through Aug. 31 to be eligible for awards.
The Wheelbillies, composed of residents of the Wheel area, was this year's top fundraising team, with $6,763, just edging out B.U.M.S., the team from Blankenship United Methodist Church, which raised $6,733. Tyson Foods was third with $5,701.
Judi Burton was the top individual fund-raiser, with $2,065, followed by Dawn Simmons at $1,725 and Kelli Burton at $1,880.
The top fund-raising event went to Tyson Foods, followed by the B.U.M.S. and the Snazzy Nazzys (First Church of the Nazarene).
This year's local event raised a total of $69,000, which is used by the American Cancer Society for research and to assist cancer patients. ACS operates a chain of Hope Lodge facilities, including one in Nashville, where out-of-town patients can stay overnight while receiving cancer treatments.
The 2012 relay will begin at 6 p.m. on a Friday, as in the past, but will now run until noon on Saturday. Chamblee told team captains that no individual is expected to participate the entire 18 hours; it's expected that teams will set up shifts or some other method of rotation.
The reason for the longer hours is to give members of the community a second chance to visit the event. Relay For Life is a fund-raising walk, in which participating teams have at least one walker on the oval track at any given time during the event.
But it is also a festival of sorts; there's live entertainment, and most of the participating teams operate some sort of concession, game or other fund-raising activity at their team booths.
Higher head count
There are also ceremonies at various points in the event recognizing cancer patients, survivors and victims. So the event thrives on public attendance in addition to the registered team member participants.
By extending the event into the daytime hours on Saturday morning, organizers hope for a second wave of visitors who might not be available to attend on Friday night. Committee members said that, according to American Cancer Society officials, longer Relay events tend to raise more money. In some communities, the Relay lasts as long as 24 hours.
The 2012 event will have a board game theme, with the slogan "Put Fight In Your Game." Those attending Saturday's open house were asked to vote for their favorite slogan from among several different choices.
Another new aspect to the 2012 event will be a 2013 calendar featuring the photos of local cancer survivors on the month of their birthday. A drop box will be placed at the Times-Gazette to receive photo submissions. It will be free to submit someone's photo; the finished calendar will be sold starting at the 2012 Relay event and continuing through the end of the year.
Although the June event is the focus of Relay, the more active teams raise money year-round in preparation for the event. The Mid-South region of Relay For Life has announced a competition called "11-11" to encourage local Relay events to sign up teams and participants early.
Any county which has at least 11 teams, with at least 11 members each, signed up online by Nov. 11 will be eligible for a prize drawing, with one team captain selected to win a weekend getaway trip.