A pep talk by representatives of the American Red Cross highlighted one of the last team captainâ€™s meetings for the upcoming East Lincoln Relay for Life, scheduled April 7 and 8 at East Lincoln High School.
According to East Lincoln Relay chairwoman Patsy Black, the goals for both the Lincolnton and East Lincoln Relay are both the same.
â€œThe goal is $206,000,â€ said Black.
One tool being used to help raise funds towards that goal this year is the Internet.
â€œIt was used just for the Lincolnton relay last year,â€ said Black. â€œAnd there was little participation. This year, more teams have signed up online. Iâ€™m surprised by the good numbers. The Internet is proving to be effective.â€
Officials with the American Cancer Society in Charlotte said that while the Internet was a great tool for fundraising, the number one tool for raising funds each year was letter writing.
â€œE-mails are also effective,â€ said ACS representative Jennifer Novotny. â€œBe sure you use your address lists.â€
At the beginning of the meeting, Novotny told the group that 550 communities in the South Atlantic Division â€“ from Maryland to Georgia â€“ are participating in Relays.
â€œYou will start us off for the season,â€ she said. â€œYou guys do a great job kicking off the season for us year after year.â€
According to Novotny, ACSâ€™ goal by 2010 is to have 65 percent of adults nationwide get colorectal screenings.
â€œOver 145,000 cases of colorectal cancer were diagnosed in 2005,â€ said Novotny. â€œColorectal cancer is 90 percent curable if caught early.â€
The group also learned from ACS Lincoln County mission manager Carla Dockery that the ACS is partnering with the Lincoln County Health Department for a special program.
â€œItâ€™s a program that enables every restaurant in Lincoln County to be smoke free,â€ said Dockery. â€œAbout 10 restaurants are participating in the program so far.â€
The goal, according to Dockery, is to inform restaurants about the program in a positive manner.
â€œWeâ€™re in the process of completing a pamphlet that will name all of the restaurants participating in the program,â€ said Dockery. â€œWeâ€™re also going to give the restaurants yard signage advertising the fact they are smoke free.â€
The 32 teams that will participate in this weekendâ€™s relay will also be conducting awareness programs during the event.
Black said East Lincoln Relay would not know preliminary fund-raising totals until Bank Night, which is Thursday at Peoples Bank at N.C. 16/73 in Denver.
In last yearâ€™s East Lincoln Relay for Life, 46 teams participated.
Organizers estimated that about 8,000 people attended last yearâ€™s relay, raising around $194,000.
â€œThatâ€™s roughly $5.61 per adult in Lincoln County,â€ said Black. â€œThis year, counting everyone involved, Iâ€™m expecting around 10,000 people to participate throughout the entire event.â€
Black added that every year there has been a Relay for Life in eastern Lincoln County, the Relay has been sixth in per-capita giving per adult.
â€œThe Relay started in eastern Lincoln County because people werenâ€™t coming to Lincoln to participate there,â€ said Black. â€œMembers of ACS asked the Lincoln/Lincoln County Chamber to start a relay here. Chamber president Ken Kindley told them to call me and I canâ€™t say no,â€ said Black.
Black has been sole chairman of the relay event since 2001.
â€œWeâ€™re encouraging people to really give this year,â€ said Black. â€œItâ€™s hard for people to stretch their dollars with all of the fund-raisers going on. The only way to cure cancer is to fund research.â€
Relay, according to Black, is doing more for the Denver area than just raising funds.
â€œThere wasnâ€™t anything in east Lincoln that drew everyone together, that people would feel comfortable doing,â€ said Black. â€œWhen Relay started, it brought the community together. Weâ€™ve never had that before.â€
Black added that when Relay started, cancer was a â€œno-no word.â€
â€œWe couldnâ€™t find cancer survivors the first year,â€ said Black. â€œWeâ€™re expecting 200 cancer survivors during this yearâ€™s Relay.â€
One of these survivors is Mary Lou Robinson. She and her husband, Michael, will play a big part in this yearâ€™s Relay.
â€œMary Lou and Michael Robinson are team mentors,â€ said Black. â€œMike also works with logistics, helping with the layout for the team tents.â€ Black added that hall-of-fame broadcaster Doug Mayes will serve as this yearâ€™s Relay honorary chairperson.
Back in December 2005, the Tree of Hope at Peoples Bank in Denver was a â€œfund raising kickoff for Relayâ€ according to Black.
There, Mary Lou Robinson said she had been cancer free for the past seven years.
â€œI knew I was having a problem, but the doctors didnâ€™t agree,â€ said Robinson. â€œThey didnâ€™t think it was cancer.â€
It was only after a biopsy was performed was it discovered Robinson had breast cancer.
â€œAt first, I had a lot of questions, then I decided that cancer wasnâ€™t going to take my life,â€ she said. â€œI started taking chemotherapy treatments to battle the cancer. I even ended up staying 19 days in Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem while battling the disease in 1998.â€
Robinson had her last checkup in November. She remains cancer free.
Black said the tree honors people like Robinson — who have beaten cancer — and memorializes those who lost their fight against the disease.
It was the fourth year for the tree lighting at the bank according to Black.
Robinsonâ€™s husband, Michael, said persistence is what saved his wifeâ€™s life.
â€œShe just wouldnâ€™t take no for an answer and insisted that the doctors followed up,â€ he said.
by Jon Mayhew