Team registrations were up more than 50 percent this year, as greater community support from residents and local businesses led the fund-raising efforts to increase more than 50 percent as well. Brentwood Mayor Brian Swisher shared his personal story about his son Britton's battle with myelogenous leukemia, which set the tone for this year's event and gave participants another reason to walk for hope.
Watching Britton walk the track and play with friends put a smile on everyone's face. According to Tisha Singleton, Community Development Manager with the American Cancer Society, 'When the Relay For Life of Far East County earned the Top Relay Baby Award last year, many wondered how they would follow up on last year's phenomenal success. Of course, you would expect Wendy Robertson and Dave Wahl and their team to come through and deliver. They certainly did. We're so grateful for their hard work and the results of the 2006 Relay For Life of Far East County.'
'We're extremely pleased with the results of this year's Relay For Life,' said Dave Wahl, Event Co-chair. 'Think of it: Far East County represents just 10 percent of the population of Contra Costa, yet we will generate over 20 percent of the Relay For Life funds raised county-wide this year. That says a lot about the people of Far East County.'
Wahl went on to express his thanks to the Liberty Union High School District. 'I can't say enough about how the Liberty High School staff and District staff stepped up to assist us with this event. Ohmstede Field is a beautiful facility for the Relay and I'm hoping we'll be invited back.' Wahl expressed his vision that the 2007 Relay event will hit the 100-team milestone. 'We'll need scores of volunteers and a big increase to the planning committee so that we can do an even better job supporting the participants.'
According to Robertson, 'Relay brought my family together. My daughter Emily and her two daughters, my mom and dad all spent the night and stuck out the whole event from open to close. Having my sister and her family as well as my husband's support meant a lot to me. It was an emotional weekend all the way around. I am so proud to be a part of this event. Dave Wahl is a great to work with and I look forward to helping him in the future. He truly is incredible. We also had an amazing committee of great volunteers.'
As of 10 a.m. Sunday, the Top Team in fund-raising was the Summerset Originals, led by Team Captain Donna Coker, with $12,635.80, followed by Team Turbo Jets with $9,880, led by Team Captain Stephanie Foley-Devlin. In third place was Take a Bite Out of Cancer with $8,845.87, led by Team Captain Dr. Tracy Benhamou. The Top Overall Individual Fund-raisers were Brook Swisher ($6,060) from Team Swisher, Madelon Cohen ($4,130) from Summerset Originals and Sean Brannan ($3,600) from Team Brannan. Donations are still being accepted online at www.acsevents.org/relay/ca/brentwood or by mail to American Cancer Society, c/o Tisha Singleton, 20 E. Alpine Ave., Stockton, CA 95204 before Aug. 1.
This year 191 cancer survivors participated in the 2006 Relay For Life of Far East County, compared to 86 survivors last year. Cancer survivors were recognized by all participants as they walked the track during the Survivors Lap. Survivors were offered full body massages courtesy of Twin Escapes and were honored during a Luminaria Ceremony. Luminaria Co-chair Sue Owens said, 'As I watched the Boy Scout Troop shovel sand into bags early Saturday morning, it prompted me to tell them that each one of those bags is a 'person,' someone who has passed away or someone who has survived cancer. Many of these individuals you may know. My words seemed to touch their hearts and mine as well. I noticed them respectfully working together in filling the bags with sand.' More than 750 Luminaria Bags illuminated the track at Olmested Field, giving hope to those still battling cancer. It was a wonderful tribute to those who have lost their lives to the disease as well as those who have emerged victorious.
Teams interested in registering for next year should contact Fran Bowman at 513-4515. All team registration forms collected before July 31 receive a discounted fee of only $75.
The Relay For Life of Far East County Planning Committee has extended an invitation to others interested in getting involved in making the 2007 event even better for participants and cancer survivors. The goal is to have more volunteers available to assist before, during and after the Relay event. For information on how to serve in the event, contact event co-chairs Wahl at 634-1812 or Robertson at 679-9915. For additional information about Relay For Life, call Tisha Singleton, Community Development Manager with the American Cancer Society, at (209) 941-2676
For cancer information any time, call the American Cancer Society at (800) ACS-2345, or visit www.cancer.org.