By Tess Malijenovsky
Beaufort Relay for Life kicked off its fundraiser with dance tunes, karaoke singing by Samee Cannon, a hearty buffet provided by Gilligan’s restaurant, deserts baked by the Beaufort Belles, team games, and a multitude of door and raffle prizes Sunday, November 6, at the Marine Corps Air Station. Relay for Life has great fun for the sake of a serious mission: raising money for the American Cancer Society to find a cure for cancer.
Northern Beaufort County’s Relay for Life won the 2010-2011 state award for the greatest increase in money raised — $101,939 — up 71 percent from the year before, which couldn’t have been achieved without the support of its community. The kick-off party signified the debut of fundraising for the next Relay for Life event to come Friday, April 27, at Beaufort Middle School.
For those unfamiliar with Relay for Life, it’s an overnight relay-style event in which team members take turns walking around a track over night to symbolize how cancer never sleeps. The family-friendly community event is one special night to remember those lost to cancer, support those facing cancer and raise money for the American Cancer Society so that one day cancer can be eliminated.
“What people need to understand is that this research is for our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren. The cancer’s here, but we want to find a cure,” says Linda Arp, chairperson of Northern Beaufort County Relay for Life and the founder of the local woman support group, Beaufort Belles.
The race traditionally begins with the Survivor Lap, in which cancer survivors are invited to circle the track in recognition and celebration of the strides made in curing cancer. At night there is a luminaria ceremony to remember loved ones lost with a touching display of decorated candlelit sandbags. Throughout the night members can partake in any of the numerous activities, crafts and games going on at the different team tents. Finally, the relay ends in the morning with a Fight Back personal commitment, whether it’s seeking regular screening tests, quitting smoking or signing up for a Relay team for the following year.
The “teams” are families, business groups or organizations with as many or few members that want to sign up. Each team sets a personal fundraising goal and can raise money anyway it chooses. There are hundreds of creative ways to help raise money for the cause including contests, business competitions, buying luminary bags for $10, becoming a sponsor on the event T-shirts or signs by making a donation, glamour shots, bowling and fishing tournaments, auctions, bake offs, you name it!
Dana Aiken helped Gilligan’s restaurant raised $3,000 last year by having volunteers wait tables for a night and donate their tips. In fact, this year, Gilligan’s restaurant (2601 Boundary Street) is challenging all other restaurants in Beaufort to join the cause and see who can raise the most money.
Aiken isn’t the only one making a challenge in Beaufort County; Mary Gwen Boyett, a community representative of the American Cancer Society, is also challenging Bluffton and Hilton Head to try and beat Beaufort’s 71 percent increase record. Beaufort is en route already with more than $300 raised in its first day.
Any business, organization or family can make a team or a donation to an already existing team by visiting www.relayforlife.org/beaufortsc or by contacting Linda Arp, 843- 252-7549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.