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Relay for Life returns to the island again this year

By Staff | Apr 13, 2016

Mary Bondurant, Relay for Life of Sanibel and Captiva event leader. PHOTO PROVIDED

A six hour event will be held at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club to honor those who lost the battle to cancer, as well as celebrate cancer survivors and their caregivers during the Relay for Life of Sanibel and Captiva this Friday.

Mary Bondurant, Relay for Life of Sanibel and Captiva event leader, said last year the event returned to Sanibel raising a little more than $27,000, after leaving the island for six years.

“We had a six year absence prior to 2015, 2009 was the last one,” she said, adding that it returned because the Sanibel community wanted to bring it back to the islands. “This is for the entire community. Cancer has touched everyone’s life in this community in some way, shape, or form.”

Bondurant, a five year breast cancer survivor, said she was happy to rejuvenate the Relay for Life on the island last year.

The Relay for Life of Sanibel and Captiva will be held from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, 949 Sand Castle Road.

“Last year it came back and the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club was gracious enough to be the host. It’s coming back for the second year now, after its absence, still at the Dunes. Without having the Dunes support and logistics, we couldn’t have this event,” Bondurant said.

This year, the goal is to raise $35,000. More than 90 percent of the funds raised will go towards cancer research and development for the American Cancer Society.

“From now until April 15, or through August, the teams can raise money through having an event . . . a wine and cheese event at the house with a donation” she said. “Without the research from any organization, we wouldn’t have a fighting chance. I saw that as a community member and a survivor myself.”

The Relay for Life event, she said, is really about celebrating and honoring the survivors and caregivers.

Although teams typically form before the Relay for Life event is held, individuals can still attend the event and participate.

“Some people didn’t join a team, but came out to the event and took a couple of laps with friends and family that were there. We would like to see everyone stop in and take a lap and support it financially as well,” Bondurant said.

She said survivors and caregivers create memories while building teams. Teams are given a table at the event where they can sell items and raise additional money.

The event will kick off with a survivors lap, which opens up the ceremony at 3 p.m.

The Relay for Life walking path will go around the putting green and gazebo area near the restaurant. As individuals walk a lap throughout the event, music will be playing.

She said each team can pick a song and have it played while walking the path.

Luminaries can also be purchased and decorated at the Relay for Life event in memory of someone, in honor of someone, or in support of someone. The Rotary Club fills the white bags with sand. As the sunsets, the luminaries are lit, and a lap is walked around the putting green and gazebo in honor and in memory of someone.

“It’s very beautiful because of the sunset over the Dunes Club is absolutely beautiful,” Bondurant said.

A putting green competition will be held throughout the event to further raise money for the cause, as well as a silent auction.

For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/sanibelcaptivafl.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.