Raising more than money

lgierer@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 17, 2014 

Joe Paull/jpaull@ledger-enquirer.comCancer survivors take the first lap around the track during the 20th annual Relay for Life in 2013.

The Relay For Life of Muscogee County is seeking teams for the 2014 event on April 25-26.

Tiffany Trucks, Relay For Life specialist for the American Cancer Society in Columbus, said it was announced earlier this month that the local event is the fourth largest in Georgia and 23rd largest in the world.

Local representatives brought back a banner from an American Cancer Society conference in Dallas honoring Columbus.

"That's pretty good," Trucks said of the ranking. Trucks said there are about 6,000 relays worldwide.

The first Relay For Life was in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash. It was begun by a colorectal surgeon Gordy Klatt.

This is the 21st year for the local event, which, for the second consecutive year, will be held at the intramural field at Columbus State University on the corner of University Avenue and Clearview Circle.

"The event used to be in the middle of May," Trucks said. "We moved the date up to try and get more Columbus State students involved. They will still be in school at that time, and we want to see CSU teams."

Last year's event raised $389,435 for cancer research. Trucks said that this year's goal is $458,000.

Last year, 119 teams -- 1,076 people -- participated. So far, there are 105 teams registered.

"Our goal is 140," Trucks said. She said that only 92 were registered at this time last year.

While teams may register right up to the event, Trucks said it is better to get a team formed early so more fundraising may be done.

"We already have teams raising funds in several ways including bake sales and car washes," she said.

She said one reason for the success of the local event is the support of corporations such as Aflac and Pratt & Whitney, as well as local churches.

The April event will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and finish at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Each team will have a representative walking during each minute of the 12-hour period. Cancer survivors will walk the first lap.

"It is not a race," Trucks said.

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be approximately 1.6 million new cancer cases diagnosed and 585,720 cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2014.

Anyone interested in participating or voluntering for the Relay For Life should visit relayforlife.org/muscogeega or call 706-324-4573.

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