More than 400 people turned out to join a team and walk, run or jog overnight at the Laurel Relay for Life at McCullough Field June 9 and 10.
As of Wednesday, June 13, 43 teams had worked to garner $81,844 in donations as part of the Laurel relay's contribution to the American Cancer Society's national fundraising and cancer awareness event.
The relay began with a survivors lap with more than 40 folks in all shapes and sizes, men and women, young and very old. What brought the diverse group together were the purple T-shirts they wore, a badge of honor marking them as someone who had met cancer and been able to move on.
This year's relay was chaired by Mandi Phillips and Kristy Murray, and teams were formed from churches, schools, businesses and groups of friends, many remembering someone they had lost to cancer. The relay's theme was "Colors of Hope," and teams came up with their own interpretations, including using gray to symbolize brain cancer, pink for breast cancer and even creating a Garden of Hope with a rainbow of colors.
This year's relay was "awesome," Phillips said, with more teams than in recent years and more money raised for ACS. She credits a push for publicity for the increase, and said they publicized this year's relay by meeting people at the city's annual open house, marching in the Main Street Festival parade and using just "word of mouth" to get more people involved.
Next year, Phillips said, she wants to start early, as soon as September or October, to get teams organized and start the fundraising.
"It's a little bit more participation each year, but it's still not where I want it to be," Phillips said.
Laurel Relay for Life will continue to gather donations for this year's relay through Aug. 20. Donate online at relay.acsevents.org or mail donations to the American Cancer Society, 7500 Greenway Center Drive, Suite 300, Greenbelt, MD 20770.