“We have a lot of program services and research that happen because of Relay for Life,” Long said. “We are so happy to have community support.” Hundreds of people gathered at the Northwest High School on Friday night, for the 2015 Relay for Life of Hall County, which managed to raise 70, 000. Last year, in 2014, despite a storm, organizers raised nearly $100,000 for cancer research and patient service. Running with the theme “Back to the Future Without Cancer,” the event is a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which uses the money for cancer research and patient service and care. Throughout the year, teams work hard to raise money from pledges and donations for the event.
The fundraiser began from 5 p.m. to midnight and was full of festive events – including the opening ceremonies, look-alike contest, comfort dog program, kids Frozen t-shirt contest, live music and much more to keep everyone entertained and engaged.
At 9:30 was the Luminaria Ceremony, which remembered those who have passed away from cancer and those who have survived cancer, as hundreds of candles in bags with the names of those who have died lined the Northwest High School track. As many as 2,000 candles have lined the track in past years.
During the evening, hundreds of people walk laps on the track, fulfilling their promises for Relay for Life.
Team captain Sandy Petzoldt said Principal employees have been participating in the Hall County Relay for Life for many years.
Petzoldt said she started out as a Relay for Life team member for the t-shirt 15 years ago. “You get a t-shirt when you participate and, to be honest, I liked the t-shirt and I wanted to get a t-shirt,” she said.
Fifteen year later, Petzoldt’s t-shirt collection has grown larger and Principal’s contributions to Relay for Life have had a huge impact on the event.
“You get involved and you get a passion for it,” she said. “Over the years, that passion has built and built and built. It is no longer about the t-shirt.”
Trenna Edwards of Grand Island and her family and friends made up another team. The Edwards team consisted of 25 family members and friends.
“We have come together tonight to celebrate life,” Edwards said.
She said she lost her mom to cancer 20 years ago and her sister’s husband three years ago. Two of the team members are cancer survivors. “We do it for them,” she said.
Edwards said she has been participating in Relay for Life since her mom died 20 years ago.
“We don’t want people to hear those words, ‘You have cancer,’” she said. “If they do, we want to make sure that we are there with them in every step through the whole process that they go through.”
And the effort has been worth it for Edwards, as every year there are more and more cancer survivors because of the work of the American Cancer Society, along with the heavy emphasis on people having periodic checkups to catch signs of cancer early.