Area Relayers are aiming to have the community seeing purple for the next few months as this year’s Relay for Life theme is “Paint your World Purple.” The official Elkin fundraising event kicked off Monday night with its first team captain meeting at the Fairfield Inn.
Officials with the American Cancer Society, the organization which through community support benefits from Relay for Life events around the nation, estimates 54,500 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in North Carolina during 2016, and 19,620 people are estimated to die from the disease in the state this year.
Relayers participate for many reasons, but many raise funds because they’ve personally been touched by the disease, either they are a cancer survivor or a family member or friend has been a cancer patient.
For Gerald Lingenfelter, who was the individual top fundraiser during the 2015 Elkin Relay, the battle is a personal one he is fighting for the fourth time. He already is half way to his personal goal for 2016 of raising $3,000, he announced during Monday’s meeting as the team captains each took time to introduce themselves and provided a little bit of information about their teams.
Lingenfelter is a two-time stage four cancer survivor and now, after also having lung cancer, has been diagnosed with cancer of the blood, a form of cancer he said is not curable.
“This is going to be my biggest and best year for raising money,” he told those in the room.
He said he has developed a sermon he can share at churches in the area called the Service of Hope. “The first 10 minutes is about my fight with cancer that I know I’m losing, and I’m alright with that,” he said of the reality of his situation. “But every day, I’m raising funds for that next person who will be diagnosed.
“Even though I’m going to die from this cancer, I keep fighting to fund raise every sing day,” said Lingenfelter.
He put out a challenge which Relay Community Manager Melissa Hiatt then followed up on. Lingenfelter said he wants to see one team captain meeting where every captain is in attendance, so Hiatt decided during the meeting to ask all team captains to be at the March 7 meeting so they can take a group picture and it can be the one used on the 2016 Relay for Life of Elkin event poster. Everyone should wear purple to the meeting.
This year’s Relay fundraising goal for Elkin will be $27,000, of which $3,300 already has been raised, announced Sherry Chappell, Elkin Relay Committee chairperson. She also is aiming for 24 teams this year, an increase over last year’s. At this point, 19 teams are registered to participate.
“The important thing when we register a team is to be sure to register your participants,” Chappell told the team captains. She said the goal is to have 215 registered participants, and with 24 teams that number was at 53 as of Monday.
The survivor dinner, held to honor all cancer survivors whether they are participating in Relay or not, is scheduled for March 15 at First Baptist Church of Elkin. Chappell said the 2016 goal is to have 125 survivors at the dinner.
Hiatt encouraged those at the kick-off to share their reason for Relaying with others. “What I want you to do is when we think purple and talk purple we get more people interested,” she said, explaining she thought everyone she knew was aware of why she Relayed until a friend she’d known her whole life asked her about her reason, which is her daughter. “It gives us an opportunity to tell people why we Relay.”
“Energy Bus” is a book everyone is being encouraged to read. “There will be no negative energy on the bus, and there is a positive solution for everything,” Hiatt said of the message in the book.
Two opportunities to raise money for teams were presented during Monday’s meeting.
The first involves the participation of the team captains. Each meeting they attend, each time they turn in money, each time they speak and other types of participation will earn them a purple button, Hiatt explained. At the end, the captains or teams will use the buttons to be creative with how they use their buttons, and the most creative will earn $100 toward his or her team’s total amount raised.
Another fundraising opportunity for all the teams is through selling Relay T-shirts — not participation T-shirts, but special T-shirts designed with fundraising in mind. The shirts were displayed at Monday’s meeting, and more than one team can sell the shirts. The profits from the T-shirt sales go toward the team’s goal. Two of the designs are available in short and long sleeves, and all three designs are available in adult and children sizes.
Chappell said another goal for the committee is to have at least 500 luminaries sold, because that is the number it takes to line the track around Elkin Municipal Park the night of the Relay for Life, June 3.
To sign up a team for this year’s Relay for Life of Elkin and register participants or survivors, visit www.relayforlife.org/elkinnc. Luminaries can be purchased online, from a Relay team member or at the event.
The 2016 Relay for Life of Elkin will be held June 3 from 6 p.m. to midnight at Elkin Municipal Park, with teams allowed to set up beginning at 4 p.m. Opening ceremony will be at 6 p.m., survivor lap at 6:20 p.m. and luminaries at 9 p.m.
Future team captain meetings are scheduled for March 7, April 4 and May 2.
For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/elkinnc or contact Hiatt at 336-755-8566.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.