Relay off to strong start

Published 10:01 pm Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suffolk’s Rockin’ Relay for Life is still a few weeks away, but the fundraising efforts on the part of dozens of teams have been going on for months.

The annual event, scheduled for May 14, has more than 60 teams participating and has garnered more than $60,000 in donations, according to local Relay for Life Chairman Ray Bennett.

“Things are going awesome,” Bennett said. “We’re already 15 percent to 16 percent above where we were at this point last year.”

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Suffolk’s Rockin’ Relay for Life is part of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, which has 3 million volunteers worldwide. Overnight relays are held in 18 different countries to raise funds for research and the fight against cancer.

Suffolk’s Relay differentiates itself from the others by incorporating rocking chairs — a feature of the original Suffolk relay in 1981 — to allow those who cannot walk the distance to participate.

Last year, Suffolk volunteers raised $189,989 — short of their $220,000 goal — with 54 teams and 632 participants. This year’s goal is $212,000.

While Suffolk Relay efforts lost many of their corporate sponsors last year, Bennett is optimistic they’ll reach their goal with the help of the community.

“Considering we lost a lot of our ‘big sponsors’ last year, we pulled it together by doing more fundraisers and working that much harder,” Bennett said.

While several fundraisers have already been held, ones in the near future include a motorcycle ride, the Larry Branch Golf Tournament and a 2-mile walk.

“Everything is underway,” Bennett said. “We have all our permits, the tents have been ordered and the committee is putting finishing touches on everything. It’s like putting together a mini-Peanut Festival.”

This year’s event will include a performance by local band 32 South, line dancing and activities for children, such as a crazy wig race.

“We have a lot of neat things planned this year,” Bennett said. “All people need to do to join a team is to go online and register. All the money goes to finding a cure.”

Visit to sign up for a team or find out more information.