Relay for Life reaches $100K
WORTHINGTON -- Though it has been two months since the Nobles County Relay for Life wrapped up its overnight event in Worthington, the money has continued to pour in -- so much so that on Friday night, a collection taken at the grandstand during the Nobles County Fair pushed the final fundraising tally over the $100,000 mark.
It is the most money ever raised in a one-year period for the Relay for Life since it began in Nobles County 14 years ago, and may be the plateau for the annual event that raises funds for the American Cancer Society's (ACS's) research and education efforts.
Leading the way for the second consecutive year was the Farley's and Sathers Starlights team, which turned in a record $34,035 -- $4,000 more than it raised for the 2009 Relay.
Team co-captain Traci Scheepstra said main fundraisers were compiling and selling a Farley's and Sathers cookbook, hosting an annual golf event, and doing food and jeans days for the office workers at the Round Lake facility. A penny war also brought in an additional $2,000-plus to help in the fight against cancer.
Scheepstra said it was "absolutely amazing" to see the generosity of people, and is proud to have the money benefit the ACS.
"It's like an insurance policy for cancer," she said. "We're putting money in and putting money in and hopefully we never have to cash it out. Hopefully no one gets cancer again. We're not quite there yet, so we'll keep fighting."
Scheepstra credited the team's success in large part to senior staffers Denny Nemeth and Tammy Koller.
"Not any less important are the employees of Farley's and Sathers," she added. "We get the day-to-day support from the employees. A lot of us have had people with cancer in our circle of friends and family, and it hits close to home."
With the uncertainty surrounding Farley's and Sathers -- the company closed its packaging, warehouse and shipping operations in Round Lake earlier this year and is now up for sale -- the team doesn't anticipate being able to raise as much money for the 2011 Relay.
"Denny is retiring in December, and we consider him one of our biggest supporters," said Scheepstra. "We're not sure what the future will hold. Plus, we're not doing the cookbook sales next year."
Nobles County Relay for Life chairperson Kim Lambert said that within a week after the 2010 Relay in June, the fundraising tally had reached $97,500.
"Then we started pushing," she said. "We were so close, and this was probably our only chance to reach that milestone of $100,000."
After notifying team captains of the quest to reach $100K, Lambert said several teams had last-minute fundraisers to help narrow the gap.
"All of a sudden, we were down to $1,400," she added.
That's when local radio personality Chad Cummings offered to have two top donors "shave his mullet" at the county fair. By Friday's Nobles County Night in the grandstands, the Relay was just $206 short of its goal. Buckets were passed in the grandstand that night, and $217 was collected.
Lambert said she was blown away by the efforts this year.
"I'm speechless," she said. "I'm very pleased, very excited and proud to be from a small hometown community where everybody pulls together and supports each other."
Reaching the $100,000 mark will likely put Nobles County's Relay for Life event among the top fundraising counties in Minnesota this year.
Of the money collected through Relay for Life events, 75 percent goes toward cancer research. One of the latest breakthroughs, according to Lambert, is a targeted therapy drug, Gleevec, which is used to control myeloid leukemia.
"It only affects the reproductive portion of the cancer cell," she explained. "People ... typically do not need chemo or radiation and (the drug) has little or no side effects."
Lambert said researchers are now working on a similar drug that can be used by patients battling breast cancer.
Nobles County Relay for Life teams recognized for their fundraising efforts are as follows: Banking for a Cure, silver team ($5,000-plus raised); Daily Globe, silver team ($5,340.26); Farley's and Sathers Starlights, diamond team, ($34,035); JBS, platinum team ($11,029.90); Jennifer's Family, bronze team ($2,964); and Sanford Clinic, gold team ($8,259.94).