Dorch­ester Re­lay for Life cel­e­brates 20 years

Dorchester Star - - Regional - By VICTORIA WIN­GATE vwingate@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @vic­to­ri­adorstar and on In­sta­gram @dorch­ester.star.

CAM­BRIDGE — Dorch­ester County Re­lay for Life cel­e­brated its 20th an­nual walk event on Fri­day, May 20, at Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester High School.

Sur­vivors, care­givers, fam­i­lies, and com­mu­nity mem­bers walked around a makeshift track in the school park­ing lot, lined with the lu­mi­nar­ies hon­or­ing those lost to can­cer, those who have fought can­cer, and those who are still fight­ing.

At the open­ing cer­e­mony, a mo­ment of si­lence was held for those who lost their battle with can­cer in the year since the last Re­lay for Life event. Af­ter, the names of the par­tic­i­pat­ing sur­vivors were an­nounced and every­one cheered as they took the first lap around the track.

Later in the evening, the lu­mi­nar­ies were lit in cer­e­mony and a slideshow of pic­tures en­com­pass­ing the past twenty years of Re­lay events was shown.

In its 20th year, Dorch­ester Re­lay for Life has raised more than $2 mil­lion to fund the fight against can­cer through re­search, treat­ment and guide­lines for can­cer screen­ing tests. Its fundrais­ing goal for 2016 was $90,000 and they ex­ceeded the goal by $4,500 be­fore the walk even be­gan.

When the Dorch­ester Re­lay for Life was es­tab­lished in 1997, thirty teams par­tic­i­pated in the event that year, fifty can­cer sur­vivors were hon­ored with the first sur­vivor’s lap, and over $52,000 was raised. In 2016, five of the orig­i­nal thirty teams still par tic­i­pates: Bank of the East­ern Shore, Dorch­ester County Health Depart­ment, Lions Club, Sandy Hill Ele­men­tary School and We­ber Grillers.

“Over the years the Dorch­ester Re­lay for Life has been rec­og­nized both re­gion­ally and na­tion­ally for our in-kind de­vel­op­ment,” said Gail Skin­ner, volunteer chair­man of the Re­lay Com­mit­tee. “In 2000, we were rec­og­nized as one of the ten high­est fundrais­ing re­lays in our pop­u­la­tion and per capita group. One of our big­gest fundrais­ing years was 2004 when we raised over $150,000.”

Dorch­ester Re­lay for Life has come up with some pretty in­no­va­tive fundrais­ing ideas in ad­di­tion to the walk event, in­clud­ing flock­ing yards with pink flamin­gos and a woman-less beauty pageant. Other fundrais­ing en­deav­ors in­clude bake sales, car washes, auc­tions, bingo games, raf­fles and more.

“You would think we would run out of fundrais­ing ideas, Skin­ner said. “We knew that we were mak­ing a dif­fer­ence and forged ahead to help raise funds in an ef­fort to find a cure for this dreaded disease.”

One of the big­gest com­mu­nity sup­port­ers is Foxwell’s Auc­tion. Each year they spon­sor four weeks of Re­lay auc­tions in late March and early April with ev­ery bit of money raised go­ing to sup­port the Re­lay event. The items bring­ing in the most money are sur­pris­ingly the baked goods. Pies and cakes can go for over $200 and $300.

“This year was amazing and our best year ever,” Skin­ner said. “We raised over $17,000 in four weeks with Buddy and Shane Foxwell cheer­ing us on.”

This year’s par­tic­i­pants blew the fundrais­ing goal out of the wa­ter as they raised over $113,000 — well over the $90,000 that was an­tic­i­pated.

“Re­lay Com­mit­tee has been for­ever touched by the gen­eros­ity and good­will of our com­mu­nity,” Skin­ner said.

The list of lo­cal busi­ness spon­sors was long and in­cluded: Sig­ni­ture Health Care at Mal­lard Bay, Foxwell’s Auc­tions, VFW Post 7460, Pep-up, Tri-Gas and Oil, Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester High School, John W. Tieder Inc., St. Paul’s UMC, DJ Dave, Zeller Funeral Home, Har­mon’s Sep­tic Care, AIM Trans­port, Chop­tank River Golf and Events Cen­ter, Thomas Funeral Home, M&T Bank, the Nathan Foun­da­tion, Whalen Company, Pepsi-Cola, Dorch­ester Auto Sales, Shore Waste, Hop­per, Paul Har­ri­son, Craig’s Drug Store, Cam­bridge In­ter­na­tional, Proten­ergy, Whit­ten In­sur­ance, Hy­att Re­gency Ch­e­sa­peake Bay, Bay Coun­try Se­cu­rity, Sim­mon’s Cen­ter Mar­ket, 1880 Bank, Glen Ruark, Boomer’s Process Ser­vice, Res­cue Fire Company, R. Brooks and Son, Nur­tur­ing Hands, E.S. Hub­bard and Son, Mary­land Healthy Weights, State Farm Me­gan Holotik, Ch­e­sa­peake Util­ity Corp, The Copy Shoppe.

PHOTO BY VICTORIA WIN­GATE

The 20th an­nual Dorch­ester County Re­lay for Life was held on Fri­day, May 20. The sur­vivors group, decked out in pur­ple shirts, took the first lap around the track.

PHOTO BY VICTORIA WIN­GATE

The 20th an­nual Dorch­ester County Re­lay for Life was held on Fri­day, May 20. Be­yond fundrais­ing, Dorch­ester Re­lay is about hav­ing fun and unit­ing with oth­ers who have been af­fected by can­cer.

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