Cancer fundraiser near goal

Published 7:52 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Economic times have been tough on charitable organizations, but volunteers with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life are fighting tooth and nail to defy the odds set against them.

Efforts in Suffolk this year produced 20 more teams than last year and surpassed last year’s total, but the thirst of victory has yet to be quenched.

“We’re so close to our goal, you can almost see the money in the bank,” said Jeanne Banks, past Relay for Life chairman and active volunteer. “This year there have been so many obstacles with the economy being the way it is. It seems we had a good start, and we’d think, ‘We can’t keep going like this. There’s too many things against us.’ But we kept going anyways, and we’re almost there.”

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The 2010 Relay for Life fundraising goal is $212,000, of which approximately $15,000 has yet to be secured, according to Chairman Ray Bennett.

“We’re ecstatic that we’re this close,” Bennett said. “We’ve already exceeded last year’s total, and we’re not done yet.”

Last year’s goal was set at $220,00, but money raised totaled only about $190,000, largely due to the loss of many corporate supporters.

Knowing what economic hardships it would be up against, the leadership hit the ground running this year.

“Our leaders — Ray and Robin — are very dedicated and capable people,” Banks said. “They’ve used their imagination, resources, intelligence — everything at their disposal — to make sure this was a success and went smoothly. I think this is one of the best years we’ve had.”

To make up for the loss of sponsors this year, leaders focused on raising team numbers and individual support. Their efforts paid off.

“We grew so much this year,” Bennett said. “It’s been a success.”

Now, in the last stretch of fundraising efforts, Bennett is confident the goal will be met.

“We have until Aug. 31 to raise our money,” Bennett said. “We’re doing everything we can to meet that goal. We’ll do another fundraiser in August if we need to. We are optimistic we’ll meet our goal.”