“The different ways the teams are fundraising, a lot of them are doing something that is service-oriented or ... [people] are getting something in return [for money, such as] food or entertainment, like a concert, yard sales, things like that,” said Gretchen Barkley, American Cancer Society’s northwest Georgia senior community manager. “It’s not that it’s new ideas. It’s just thinking about ideas that would allow more people to participate because it will benefit them as well.
“... Then we also have people that … have planned to give to us. So we have [other teams] that are still just asking for donations, and they’re being successful. ... We had our first big fundraiser in March. Just about every weekend, they’ve got something going on.”
In its 20th year in Cartersville, the ACS’s Sept. 6 benefit is trying to recruit 125 teams and raise $325,000. The overnight event in which team members will take turns walking around Cartersville’s Dellinger Park track will culminate months of fundraising by participants. Last year, 109 teams generated more than $300,000 for the American Cancer Society, which provides information, offers programs to patients, and funds research for cancer treatments and cures.
“It’s just hard to find somebody who hasn’t been touched by cancer,” Barkley said. “It’s just a matter of letting them know how they can get involved. A lot of people just misunderstand what Relay for Life means. They think it’s a run and it’s not that at all. It’s just basically a concept of having teams come together and having a person from their team walk on the track, and they take turns relay style, walking for the duration of the event.
“Again, it’s just getting the word out and understanding how people can participate [because some people] don’t feel like they can have a team. A team can be one or two people or it can be 100 people. We’re not defining what that team looks like. ... We want people to participate.”
From bass tournaments to a book sale, numerous fundraisers across Bartow already are posted on www.bartowrelayforlife.org.
Among the plethora of benefits is the concert Rhythm of Life — A Night of Hope and Bluegrass June 20 at 7 p.m. at the Woodland High School Performing Arts Center, 800 Old Alabama Road S.E., Cartersville. Presented by the RUSSlers Relay for Life team, the event will feature the local bluegrass group Old Mill Road Band and an acoustical band hailing from Sweden named G2. Tickets, which are $12 in advance, $15 at the concert and $10 each for 10 or more, can be purchased at Taylor Farm Supply and City Swirl or by visiting www.jotform.us/form/31567111620141.
Along with trying to reach a wider audience with the bluegrass concert, the RUSSlers are involving several Relay for Life teams, with the goal of making this a community effort. Formed in 2006, the team is named in memory of Russ Cowart who died from stage four stomach cancer at age 36.
“For me, I never participated in Relay for Life until my brother passed because I just thought it was for people who have cancer,” said Cowart’s sister, Risa Womack. “So I think there’s a lot of people who don’t go to the Relay. They don’t really know what it’s about but there’s a lot of people who love music, and bluegrass is really growing. ... I think it just reaches a whole different [group] of people that may not be involved in any kind of American Cancer Society or Relay-type event.
“... [We want people to] see that the community can work together. We don’t have to be little, individual teams competing against each other. We can do events that can be big and multiple teams work together to help spread awareness to get the word out.”
For more information about Relay for Life, to register a team or view fundraisers, visit www.bartowrelayforlife.org or call Barkley at 770-429-1624. The deadline for teams to register for the benefit is July 26.