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Relay nears goal, loses chairman

Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life volunteers have been toiling for months to meet their $212,000 goal for the year.

With three weeks left in the year, which ends Aug. 31, they are about $17,000 shy of that mark and are making a final push to meet it.

“We’ve not met the goal, but we have another bank night and will hopefully bring in more money from on-going fundraisers,” the Relay’s American Cancer Society community manager Anne Barclay said. “We are eager to wrap up and celebrate all the hard work everyone has done to get close to the goal.”

According to Barclay, the Relay’s total stands at about $195,000 before expenses, which are estimated to total around $9,000.

Whether the $212,000 goal is met or not, the Suffolk Relay grew this year by 20 teams, hundreds of walkers and has already exceeded last year’s donations.

“Out of the 20 walks, Suffolk’s is one of nine that grew from last year,” American Cancer Society executive director of Hampton Roads Michele Couch said.

To help meet its goals, Ray Bennett, who had been the Relay’s chairman for the past two years, was planning a final fundraiser for the end of August.

Late Thursday evening, however, Bennett notified his committee and volunteers that his service as chairman was ending and was effective immediately. The American Cancer Society would be taking care of all awards and meetings from Thursday onward.

In early July, the society had notified Bennett he would not be permitted to run for chairman a third year due to handbook rules.

Bennett and past chairpersons emphasized the regulation had never been enforced in Suffolk before.

Whatever the case may be, “it’s always sad when a wonderful event like this has to end so poorly,” committee member and past chairperson Jeanne Banks said. “Ray and Robin truly did a wonderful job this year. It’s just unfortunate there is such distance between us and the people in charge at ACS.”

In Bennett’s absence, there is no chairman to finish out the remaining three weeks, but Barclay is organizing the final bank night and awards ceremony.

“I put on my ACS bracelet every day because I have relatives going through treatment and are very ill with cancer,” Banks said. “I know I’m not alone. I don’t lose sight of the fact cancer still exists. Right now, the Relay is the best avenue to work to support it and fight cancer.”

To help the Relay meet its goal, visit www.suffolkrockingrelay.org or call Barclay at 493-7956.