homepage logo

First teams sign up for 2009 Cape Relay for Life; ‘Marga-relay-ville’ is theme of event

By Staff | Oct 21, 2008

Organizers of the annual Cape Coral Relay for Life hosted a kickoff event Monday night at the Pearl Lounge to introduce the community to the event.

Unlike this year’s “Movie Magic” theme, next year’s relay will be a tropical voyage to “Marga-relay-ville.”

It is estimated that one in every two people will develop cancer over their lifetime, and events like Relay for Life bring together millions of people each year to combat the condition.

The annual two-day relay will be held at Ida S. Baker High School starting March 20. It celebrates cancer survivors and serves as a major fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society, who later invests those funds into cancer research.

This year’s co-chairs of the Cape relay, Mary Ellen O’Toole and Dawn Barnett, organized the kickoff party, which featured a survivor guest speaker, Kelly Denmark, and a caregiver guest speaker, Renee Doyle.

Chansen Savakinus, a student at Oasis Elementary who was diagnosed last year with leukemia, was named honorary chair. The Bunch Band also donated its time for musical entertainment Monday and Mangia Bene donated food.

“We invited past teams, new teams, survivors and caregivers,” said O’Toole. “It’s getting teams signed up to start fund raising and begin monthly meetings.”

Approximately 4,000 people in 75 teams participated in the event last year, she said, and raised more than $155,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year the group is hoping to exceed that amount and raise $160,000.

Organizers do understand that the economy may have a negative effect on the fund raising, but O’Toole said they are trying to sign up teams early to give them additional time to find sponsors and raise funds.

Although the economy is an issue that could make it more difficult for the event to exceed last year’s goal, organizers said they are optimistic.

“I think people are looking for something to hold onto, something meaningful that is positive,” said O’Toole.

Also in 2009, Relay for Life will team up with the Florida Everblades to host “Pink in the Rink” on March 6, where a share of ticket sales and auctions, including a signed pink team jersey, will benefit the American Cancer Society.

In the meantime, event organizers are asking local businesses and companies to sign up as sponsors, and they are looking for local entertainment groups who are willing to donate their time and volunteers to assist with the event.

Residents can also sign a petition to Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Legislature that asks for a $1 increase in the state cigarette tax. According to O’Toole, it would raise billions of dollars in revenue and discourage people from smoking. Those petitions will be presented in February at Advocacy Days in Tallahassee.

For more information or to sign up contact Mary Ellen O’Toole at 699-2231 or Dawn Barnett at 541-3276.

The American Cancer Society’s event Web site is: www.relayforlife.org.a