Family, Friends, Neighbors Chip-in for Cure

Family, Friends, Neighbors Chip-in for Cure

Vienna Relay gains momentum ahead of June 9 event.

With only weeks left until the June 9 Vienna Relay for Life, local residents and friends raising money for the event all have one common thought. No matter how small or large a donation is, it will be used in the fight against cancer.

"Every little bit helps," said Kathy Beatty, a member of the FUNguys for Life fund-raising team. "No amount is little, everything will be used," she said. So far FUNguys have raised more than $12,000 for the event.

THE 15-MEMBER TEAM formed after a friend’s father, Robert Shelton, was diagnosed with cancer. All 15 members are either his family members or friends of his daughter. Since forming as a fund-raising team for this year’s relay, the group has gotten much closer. "We’ve truly enjoyed the experience," said Beatty. "It has enriched our friendship." Beatty said the team has organized different activities to raise money for the event that benefits the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) mission of finding a cure for cancer. Last weekend FUNguys held a yard sale, raising $1,300 for the cause. Other events included hosting a bowling event and a rock concert for children. Beatty said that it is not too late to do more fund-raising, having bake sales, car washes and going door-to-door.

Vienna resident, and co-chair of the Vienna Relay, Michelle Rhodes is the captain of the Vienna Inn II team. The team organized a bunko night, playing cards at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Vienna and raising $950 with 50 participants. Rhodes said the team has had great success with bake sale. She has sent out letters and e-mails asking for donations. "Just the old-fashion ask goes a long way," she said.

According to the Vienna Relay for Life Web site, participants have raised more than $180,000 for the event so far. Vienna Relay co-chair Irene Ward said this amount should increase a lot after the May 30 Bank Night and the June 9 event itself, to be held at Marshall High School. "The momentum is unbelievable," said Ward. She said the 2007 Vienna Relay, third one to be held, has seen a lot of new teams and a lot more participation from the youth. There is even a relay youth committee. Ward said the youth committee is not only a medium through which local young people are reached to donate efforts and funds, but also a support group for young people who are fighting their battles with cancer or coping with a loss due to cancer. "These are the people that we want someday to organize the Vienna Relay," said Ward.

Ward echoed Beatty’s sentiment that it is not too late to begin fund-raising. She said one of the teams recently raised about $800 in a bake sale. Ward said they did not price their items, but rather asked for donations from the people they served. Other people have organized parties where they collected donations while some children took to the streets setting up lemonade stands. "It’s never too late to do a little thing to fund raise, it’s never too late to ask people to dig deep into their pockets," said Ward. "Every day counts. Every little bit of what everyone does makes a difference."

CANCER AFFECTS MOST everyone, directly or indirectly. Most people know someone who was diagnosed with one form of cancer or another. Rhodes lost her mother to breast cancer, one of her grandmothers to colon cancer and the other grandmother to ovarian cancer. "Everybody I know has been touched by cancer," she said.

Beatty said that since Relay for Life is an event benefiting an organization that fights all forms of cancer, raising funds for it is raising funds to fight all cancer. "This is something we’ll all benefit from," she said.

The Vienna Relay participants have embraced their fund-raising projects and ideas, gaining momentum towards the June 9 event and beyond. Ward said some of the fund-raising teams would hold events after the event, although most will try to reach their fund-raising goals by June 9. Local politicians are expected to address the crowd at the event, including U.S. Rep. Tom Davis and state Sen. Jean Marie Devolites Davis. Also, Vienna Mayor Jane Seeman is expected to declare June 9 Relay for Life Day in Vienna.

"I can’t even describe how excited I am about the event," said Rhodes. She encouraged people to volunteer for the event, opportunities are available through the web site. She also encouraged the community to attend the luminaria ceremony at the June 9 event.