Successful — that’s how participants for the 2011 Portales Relay for Life said they could best sum up the event.
Relay for Life chairperson Cathy Hess said team numbers and money raised this year increased from the numbers in the last relay, held in 2009.
“I think there was a significant growth,” Hess said. “Just when you think that everyone is done signing up, more sign up at the last minute. We had about 75 more people sign up in the last week.”
Hess said the event drew 32 teams this year compared to 22 teams in 2009 and raised more than $30,000 compared to $22,000 in 2009.
Hess said exact numbers for funds raised this year have yet to be determined but they do know they have surpassed their goal of $30,000.
She said online contributions were also successful.
“That was the benefit of pushing the online resources, was the fact that we live in a town with college students and military people away from home who contact family and friends out of state to make donations, Hess said.”
Hess said she was the master of ceremonies for the Miss Relay Pageant, in which young men dressed in female clothing and acted out a talent to raise money. She said the pageant and being able to support the cancer survivors were the most meaningful parts of the event for her.
“All of us are here for our personal reasons and everyone has their own story,” she said. “It’s motivating to know what motivates other people that are there.”
Hess said the event is about the money because with no money, there will be no cure. She said the stories shared at this year’s event, such as that of guest speaker Scotty Savage, were inspiring and heartwarming despite their sad nature.
“Stories like that are so neat to hear,” Hess said. “It’s one of the things that motivates me to keep doing what I do.”
Survivorship chairwoman and breast cancer survivor Julie Miller was a co-chair for the survivor reception held Friday night.
“It was rewarding to see the survivors come in and participate with us,” Miller said. “My favorite thing, of course, was the survivors’ lap. The survivors and their caregivers made a lap around the gym. It was emotional for me but it was really neat.”
Miller said she is a five-year cancer survivor but considers herself to be very fortunate, because her cancer was caught early on, allowing her to be treated with surgery.
She said event coordinators were very fortunate to have so much support and donations this year. She said the Relay for Life board members put no money into advertisement, entertainment or other venues at the event.
“Supporting each other and the community supporting other members of the community is the most significant part, I think,” Miller said. “Seeing survivors and those who had lost someone and some you didn’t even know had cancer had a really big impact. I want to work on it again. And I will work harder and more diligently on getting more names next year.”