BRUNSWICK --- Following two straight years of declining numbers, the 18th Annual American Cancer Society Brunswick Relay For Life was on target for reaching its ambitious $62,000 goal within the first hours of the 12-hour event June 3.
And the 2017 Relay was also up in team numbers and new sponsors, ACS spokesperson, Jamie Smith, said.
"We have 24 teams registered, and six are new this year," Smith said of the Disney-inspired "Wish Upon a Cure" themed Relay. "And one of our new company (sponsors), Unique Home Solutions, was our top (fundraiser) at $5,000."
After not reaching its fundraising goal in 2015 and 2016, Smith said, a committee was formed to brainstorm ways to better reach out to the community prior to the Relay.
One of the more immediately recognizable changes was moving the Relay back in front of Brunswick High School, with considerably more public visibility than in recent years, when the Relay was held behind the school, at the BHS stadium.
Smith said one of the most important aspects of the Brunswick and Medina Relays (the 2017 Medina Relay for Life, which has raised $77,959 of its $100,000 goal thus far, will begin at 10 a.m. June 10 at the Medina County Fairgrounds, 710 W Smith Road) is the fact that the money raised remains largely in the Greater-Cleveland community. This includes funding for the Joseph S. and Jeanette M. Silber Hope Lodge in Cleveland - one of only two such residences in Ohio for families of cancer patients receiving long-term cancer treatments, and Medina County's ACS Road to Recovery program, where volunteers donate their time to drive cancer patients to and from medical appointments and treatments.
"We find that a lot of times, if people don't have transportation, they just don't go to their treatments," Smith said.
Support is still most important
Still, a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most frightening and isolating feelings in the lives of both the patient and their families. Which makes the support offered by Relay events all the more important to those involved.
"It means a lot," said Natoma Canfield, a seven-year leukemia survivor who, along with Junior Survivor, 7-year-old Fiona Smith, was this year's Honorary Survivor. "It means a lot that I am still here. You never trust anything but this day, but this (Relay) means so much to me."
That sentiment was echoed by a number of the team members at the Relay.
"It is amazing how a diagnosis like cancer can bring people together," said Dr. Jennifer Poptic, a family practice doctor at the Cleveland Clinic Brunswick Family Health Care Clinic and a member of Relay for Life team Healthonators.
Wendy Burns, a survivor of salivary gland cancer, said simply.
"You can't do it alone."
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