As Relay for Life Lincolnton prepares to celebrate 20 years in the county in 2014, committee members are encouraging community to gather at a special event kickoff Sunday at Lincolnton High School.
Not only are all current survivors and teams asked to attend but also all individuals who have participated with Lincolnton’s Relay for Life event over the years.
The celebration will be 3-5 p.m. and include music, food, fellowship and a survivor lap for individuals who’ve experienced a successful cancer battle.
This year’s chair committee members John Dancoff, Cheryl Burgess and Susan Hutcherson hope to see a flood of purple shirts unite at the weekend event, they said.
Each of the three Lincolnton residents has headed the local Relay for Life event either together or separately over the years.
In addition, all three chairs joined the local cancer cause during the 1990s after the “big-C” struck close to home.
“We all have a tie or story,” Burgess said.
For Hutcherson, it was her mother who received the tragic news her body had the illness, she said.
Dancoff, on the other hand, watched his daughter suffer through the illness twice — including a diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Disease in middle school and breast cancer in her adult years. She is now in remission, he said.
For Burgess, the fight was much more personal as she experienced the battle first-hand, receiving news she had stage two breast cancer while serving as event chair in 2005.
“I’ll never forget that day,” Burgess said. “I said (to Dancoff and Hutcherson), ‘I’ll call ya’ll in the morning (with the news).’”
A new mother at the time, Burgess said doctors believed she probably developed the disease through altered hormone levels that occurred during the pregnancy and birth process.
The Relay committee opted to host this year’s kickoff celebration at an earlier date than usual in an attempt to raise more money.
“We really want to do well this year,” Dancoff said.
The group’s target goal for 2014 is $200,000 — the largest fundraising goal in chapter history.
Over the decades, both of Lincoln County’s Relay for Life chapters, including East Lincoln Relay for Life, has raised a combined total of than $2 million.
The county ranks among the nation’s top 10 Relay for Life areas per capita, Dancoff said.
While some years the Lincolnton chapter has witnessed a financial victory in terms of reaching its set goal — drawing in between $150,000 and $160,000 in its most successful year — chair members said last year’s fundraising efforts dropped below the chapter’s anticipated number.
Dancoff said the group aimed to gather $135,000 in 2012 donations but received roughly $120,000.
Burgess said the economy has a significant impact on the number of donations received.
While the group’s largest fundraising goal to date is set for 2014, chair members are confident in donors’ unwavering support.
“It’s attainable,” Burgess said. “People stay true to it (the cause).”
She also noted the bitter-sweet nature of recognizing two decades of local support for the American Cancer Society.
“We were hoping we wouldn’t have to celebrate 20 years,” Burgess said. “We were hoping we’d have a cure by now.”
Chair members encouraged everyone in the community to attend Sunday’s kickoff and get a head start on purchasing luminaries for loved ones and signing up their fundraising teams.
Dancoff said early registration for team members is $5 through Sunday.
The price will rise to $10 following the event.
For more information on Relay for Life Lincolnton, visit relayforlife.org/lincolnton or the group’s Facebook pages–”Relay for Life 2014 Kickoff” and “Relay for Life of Lincolnton.” Individuals may also contact John Dancoff at (704) 608-2503.
A portion of Relay for Life Lincolnton proceeds benefits local citizens.