Transforming the lobby of the Herndon Municipal Center into a celebrity gala — complete with an inflatable OSCAR trophy, giant sized popcorn bin, film reels and even a red carpet — this year's Herndon Relay for Life planning committee went all out.
Equipped with a sign-in station of three laptops for captains to register teams, the Feb. 22 event drew close to 50 residents. Fairfax County Supervisor and cancer survivor Joan DuBois (R-Dranesville), council members Carol Bruce, Steven Mitchell, Ann Null and Mayor Michael O'Reilly were also present for the event.
Enjoying donated food by JJDeli, Chick-Fil-A, Qdoba and Trader Joe’s, residents mingled in the lobby-turned-celebrity gathering.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the annual relay, this year's planning committee sent out invitations to promote the event, 2006 co-chair Lisa Fagen said.
The committee also introduced another incentive to raise money — outside of funding cancer research. This year's event will provide one lucky participant with the chance to win a new vehicle to be raffled off during the relay. The only way to win the car will be through the purchase of raffle tickets from team members.
Tickets will be sold in bundles, including 20 for $100, 10 for $50 and 5 for $25. The winner will have their choice of a new Dodge Charger or a new Dodge Dakota pickup truck, donated by Tysons Dodge Jeep.
WHILE THE EVENT was meant to be fun, many residents were in attendance because of the impact cancer has made on their lives. Reading a resolution approved by the Town Council that recognized the event, O'Reilly noted the history of cancer in his family. He also commended his sister in her fight against the disease, noting she is their team leader this year.
Following O'Reilly, two additional speakers noted the impact cancer has had on them.
Admitting it was her first public speaking event, Herndon resident Nancy Simpson explained how her diagnosis of breast cancer five years ago changed her life. The wife and mother of three endured radiation and chemotherapy to rid her body of the disease. Simpson's purpose for speaking was to increase awareness about early detection, she said.
"I live my life optimistically and realistically," she said. "Cancer is tricky and may never really be gone. Early detection and knowledge are key."
Following Simpson, the Rev. Robert "Buzz" Moore spoke about how cancer impacted his life. A United Methodist minister, Moore's wife died of a rare, and incurable, form of cancer. Moore's brother also died of cancer. After his wife's death, Moore and her family began a golf tournament to raise money for further research about her rare disease.
Encouraging the Herndon participants to continue their efforts to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, Moore reminded them of the relay's importance.
"In 2006, there will be 1,399,000 new cases of cancer in the United States," said Moore. He added, of those, 34,900 cases will be diagnosed in Virginia.
Residents interested in participating in this year's relay can form their own teams, or join existing teams that need more members. In the months leading up to the 24-hour event, team members ask for donations and pledges to be donated to the American Cancer Society. Last year the event drew 900 people and raised $165,000. This year's planning committee has set a goal to raise $175,000. To learn more visit www.acsevents.org/relay/herndon.