By MATT CRANE
After overwhelming community support during its 2012 event, the Oktibbeha County Relay for Life announced its fundraising goal and event theme for the 2013 campaign during Tuesday’s kick off event at the Starkville Sportsplex.
2013 Relay for Life Steering Committee Chair Brian Hawkins said the organization surpassed its 2012 fundraising goal of $100,000 by $6,000, and the team chose to increase the goal for this year’s campaign.
“We set a fundraising record for the Oktibbeha County Relay with the 2012 event, and we want to continue raising the bar for the 2012 Relay with the $125,000 goal,” he said. “The work of the American Cancer Society is making great strides in research every year toward a cure, and any part our community can play makes a difference.”
Along with the new fundraising goal, organizers announced the theme for the 2013 event: “Up All Night: The Ultimate Pajama Party.”
Hawkins said the steering committee felt the new theme’s concept would provide a host of possibilities for Relay teams in terms of fundraising and planning activities for the Relay event in May.
“This year’s theme came from a suggestion from one of our 2012 Relay teams and was developed around one of the ACS’s popular slogans about Relay, ‘Cancer doesn’t sleep, so neither will we,’” he said. “We’ve already got some great ideas in the works for Relay Night.”
Hawkins, who has worked with Oktibbeha County’s Relay for Life for over eight years, said he is driven to continue his work to fight cancer after losing family and friends to the disease over the years.
“If anyone you care about has ever gone through a cancer battle, you want to do everything you can to ensure they never have to suffer again,” he said. “That’s why I am a Relayer.”
A breast cancer survivor herself, Relay Steering Committee Accounting Chair Robyn Havard said she is excited about the 2013 theme and expects the organization to once again surpass its set fundraising goal.
“I think that last year we got our second wind so to speak, and our teams were excited,” she said. “Everybody is touched by cancer and it’s a great time for family and everyone to get together and raise money.”
Havard said funds raised from Relay for Life events allow her to have a brighter future and positive outlook on the disease she battled.
“I always take the opportunity to let people know that even just one dollar raised is a reason why my life expectancy is greater,” she said. “Literally every dollar helps, and had there not been someone raising money, we wouldn’t know the thing we know today.”
Havard said she is confident in exceeding the $125,000 goal for the 2013 Relay Night and said she has spoken with teams that have been raising money since the 2012 event.
“We’re not winning the battle with cancer yet, but we are gaining a lot of ground,” she said. “My hope and my prayer is that we will have a future where there will be no more cancer.”
The 2013 Relay for Life “Up All Night: The Ultimate Pajama Party” is scheduled for May 6, 2013 at 6 p.m.