Relay meets, beats goalPublished 8:36pm Saturday, April 20, 2013
With a goal of raising $100,000 for the American Cancer Society, residents of Dallas County packed out the gymnasium at Wallace Community College Selma for the Dallas County Relay For Life event Friday night.
When the event kicked off, Tanya Miles, events chair for the relay announced to room full of cancer survivors, care takers and supporters of the cause that they were short $9,000 of meeting their goal. Less than three hours later, the relay event not only met the goal, but exceeded it — raising $102,950.93.
The event was previously scheduled to take place at Memorial Stadium, but due to weather, organizers made the decision to move the event inside — a move that no one seemed to mind.
“It was received with a little skepticism,” Miles said of the move to Wallace, “because they were trying to figure out how it would work. But it worked itself out, and it brought the relay closer, because we were closer in there together.”
Participants were still allowed to bring their tents and decorations into the gym, which helped maintain the feeling of previous relay events.
“I like this closeness,” Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard told the crowd in the opening ceremonies. “We’ll miss the stadium, but we’ll be back there next year. To the survivors, to the families of all the survivors to the physicians, to everyone who takes care [of cancer patients] — ya’ll are the bravest people in Dallas County. My heart and my hand go out to you. That c-word is a scary word, but working together we’re going to whoop this thing.”
The purpose of the relay is to raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. The theme of this year’s event was “decking out cancer,” which translated to a gym filled with tents draped in memorabilia from different decades and participants dressed in tie-dye T-shirts, afro wigs and bell bottoms.
The night started with a dance party as the song, ““Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” echoed throughout the building. Teams and individuals walked the track lined with luminaria, which are illuminated after dark and personalized with a name or message in honor or in memory of someone who has been affected by cancer.
“It was just a real fun night,” Miles said. “Everyone was just excited and it was just an awesome relay.”
In addition to being a fun event filled with dance offs, costumes and tents full of food, the night held solemn moments as well. The luminaria ceremony, which occurs at every Relay For Life event is the time when the luminaria lining the track are lit and relay participants, survivors and caregivers then gather to remember loved ones lost to cancer and honor those who are continuing the battle. Because the event was held inside, everyone moved from the gym to the parking lot.
“It was so beautiful,” Miles said, noting they also lit and released 60 sky lanterns that had been purchased in memory or in honor of someone.
“I just want to thank the people of Selma and Dallas County for helping us to make a difference in the lives of cancer patients,” Miles said. “I thank them for their dedication and support and just ask that they continue to support the American Cancer Society as well as cancer patients everywhere.”
Miles said because the fiscal year doesn’t end until August, they will continue taking donations until then. One hundred percent of the funds are given to the American Cancer Society for the purpose of cancer research.