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Getting ready for the Relay for Life

Even McDuffie County's biggest fundraiser is feeling the effects of the struggling economy. At the kick off meeting of the 2009 McDuffie County Relay For Life, several changes were noted:

A lowered goal

For the past several years, McDuffie County has ranked first or second in the nation for monies raised per capita. And each year, the goal for the amount to be raised has been met or exceeded. This year's goal is $200,000 - down $50,000 from last year.

"Things are going to be tougher in 2009 because of the economy," McDuffie RFL Co-Chairman Bob Knox said at the kick-off. "But we can raise $200,000 easily, just like we've done the last three years."

Other goal numbers for this year include 55 teams, 2,000 participants and 275 survivors.

David Ruehle organizes the survivor lap, survivor banquet and survivor network for McDuffie County. Anyone with information on a survivor who is not already registered, or one who has passed away, should let him know. There are currently 400 on the list.

"The American Cancer Society sends out a bunch of stuff for survivors, but unless they know who to send it to, they can't send it," Dr. Ruehle said.

A shorter relay

An overnight event that celebrates cancer survivorship and raises money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society, Relays are held in communities all over the nation every spring. But this year's Relay in McDuffie will not be an all-nighter. It will take place at the Thomson High School track from 6 p.m. until midnight on Friday, May 15.

"It's a significant change," Mr. Knox said. "After receiving a lot of feedback, we decided it would be best to close everything down at midnight."

More prep time and parking

Relay team fundraisers are traditionally kept low-key until after February, so as not to compete with the American Heart Association's fundraiser. But the Heart Walk has been discontinued by the AHA in McDuffie County, so Mr. Knox said the teams can get started earlier this year.

During the kick-off, Mr. Knox acknowledged two teams - Thomson Elementary School and Dearing Dream Team - that have turned in several thousand dollars already. He said funds already are being accepted, which will ease the load for the money counters on bank night.

Also, Mr. Knox said concerns were brought forth last year about the distance handicapped or elderly people had to walk after parking their cars, and the lack of adequate parking space. The co-chairman said that situation will be reorganized and improved this year.

Easier registration and fundraising

"We want to have another great year, and one way we will do this is online," Mr. Knox said.

Teams and participants may register online. They also may use the site to raise money and share ideas. Mr. Knox said the Thomson High School Student Technology Association will keep the site updated.

"It will be a good way to reach people outside the community, like your friends and family that live out of town," he said.

The theme for this year's event is "Cooking Up a Cure… Serving Our Community Hope." The next meeting for team captains and leadership members is at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17, in the auditorium at the Augusta Tech Thomson campus. For more information, call McDuffie co-chairs Mr. Knox at 706-595-1842 or Nancy Trivett at 706-466-0410 or the ACS Community Manager, Danielle Truan at 706-731-9900.

Web posted on Thursday, February 12, 2009

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