By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Cooke County —
Directors of Friday’s installment of Cooke County Relay for Life cited a year as good as any in the event’s 17-year local history, though fundraising continues through June.
The 2013 Relay had a goal of supplying the American Cancer Society with $140,000 — $10,000 higher than final 2012 amounts — and Friday’s overnight marathon was the culmination of the cause.
As of late Monday, the announced fund total online was just more than $99,500, the result of 469 participants among 41 teams. But organizer Stacy Dickerson said the final tally is sure to exceed the target and that funds gathered through Saturday morning brought the figure-in-progress closer to $119,000.
“We have teams still bringing in money,” she said Monday. “We’re sure we’re going to hit our goal but we don’t like to say that until it actually all goes in.”
Dickerson also cited a tremendous turnout, matching it with any local Relay conducted since 1996.
“The participation is absolutely amazing,” she said. “I’m always amazed at the turnout Cooke County brings out, and I don’t want to say this year is better than any other year because every year seems to amaze me. I’m pleased and overwhelmed by the way things turn out.”
Other participants said they were happy with the Friday festivities, which included music and vendors.
“It’s more organized this year than I’ve seen it in the past couple years,” said Shelley Head of the “Missy’s Pals” fundraising team that garnered $29,000 from its 19 members through auctions and food sales. “Every year, Cooke County raises more and more money and I think this year, people are going to be blown away.”
On Friday, Head credited the efforts of the American Cancer Society, which uses Relay funds not for a single cancer cure-all but for the development of treatments and medications that provide remission.
“Ten or 20 years ago, you got cancer and it was a six-week diagnosis,” she said. “And now we’ve got survivors who are 20 years-plus.”
Elizabeth Dieter of “Team Stronger” provided vocals for the opening performance of the national anthem, plus music preceding Relay’s special “Luminaria Lap” that honors cancer victims with a mass of candles by night. She explained several of her relatives have been cancer survivors, including a 5-year-old cousin, and participation in the 2013 Relay was the best way she knew to honor them.
“It’s such a privilege to sing for the opening and the luminaria ceremony,” she said. “Obviously, with so many family members, cancer has a big impact on my life. So we are here to help. And the fundraising continues all summer long, and then they start again.”