Relay for Life begins 2013 fundraising efforts

Published 5:45am Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Atmore Relay for Life program is once again preparing for their annual fundraiser at Tom Byrne Park and Thursday, the planning committee held their first meeting of the new year at Brooks Memorial Baptist Church.

Chairperson Gayle Johnson said this year’s event, which benefits the American Cancer Society, is already shaping up to be bigger than last year’s.

“We’ll be getting started later this year because we’re going to go overnight,” Johnson said. “It’s the first time we’ve done it all night in three or four years.”

Johnson said having enough support and manpower to extend the event overnight is a good thing because the extra hours allows for national accreditation for the group.

This year, so far, a total of eight teams have signed up to be a part of the event, which will be held Friday, April 26 from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. Saturday, April 27.

Johnson said teams from Atmore Community Hospital, United Bank, Walgreens, the Women’s Auxiliary, Johnson Ford, First National Bank and Trust, Wind Creek Casino and Hotel and Gulf Winds Federal Credit Union have already signed up, adding more teams are more than welcome to join the cause.

Christy Sexton, area director for the American Cancer Society, echoed Johnson’s sentiment.

“(More teams) are always welcome,” Sexton said. “The later it is, the more difficult fundraising becomes, but anyone is welcome to come out and participate.”

Johnson said, while more teams are hoped for, progress is already being made.

“We had a new team sign up this morning,” Johnson said Thursday. “We’re happy to have Johnson Ford with us this year. We’re always growing and expanding.”

Ben Odom, sales manager for Johnson Ford, said his team is excited to be on board.

“We’re just glad to be a part of this and help the community any way we can,” Odom said.

With helping the community in mind, many teams are already planning and holding events to raise money for this year’s Relay for Life.
A motorcycle ride is tentatively planned for March or April, according to the president of the ACH team, as well as “Denim Fridays,” an event held each week that allows hospital employees to wear jeans at work for a $5 donation. Odom said Johnson Ford officials are planning to donate a portion of the sale of each vehicle to the cause, while United Bank is holding soup lunches for $5 per employee and has already raised nearly $300.

Sexton said she is always impressed with the results of Atmore’s Relay for Life efforts.

“The money Atmore raises is just phenomenal for its size,” she said. “So we certainly appreciate them.”

Despite their favorable results, Sexton said help for the Relay committee is always needed.

“I’m so grateful for the committee,” she said. “They do an awesome job. They’re little, but they’re mighty.”

Cindy Lee, who manages the cancer survivors program, also spoke at Thursday’s meeting, encouraging members to reach out to those who have beaten the disease and invite them to join this year’s Survivors Reception, which will take place the day of the event at Fist United Methodist Church at 5:30 p.m.

“Any survivors and caregivers are welcome,” Lee said. “We’re going to be doing breakfast for supper and it is not by invitation only. This is an open event. A lot of times you see people in the community and you don’t know they are a survivor. We do this for them.”

Lee also stressed that time is not necessarily a factor for those who want to become involved.

“If it’s two weeks before the event and you find out someone has been diagnosed and wants to be a part, let us know,” she said.

Johnson said anyone interested in becoming involved in this year’s event can find registration information by visiting www.relayforlife.org and searching Atmore, or by contacting her via email at gjohnson@pci-nsn.gov.

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