Support the Relay, wherever it’s held

Published 10:29 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2011

After a year’s worth of preparations, it’s almost time for the 2011 Relay for Life to begin.

With a new location following a needlessly controversial move from Nansemond-Suffolk Academy to Bennett’s Creek Park in North Suffolk, there were two schools of thought concerning the expected level of success for the event. On the one hand, organizers hoped moving the anti-cancer rally to North Suffolk would attract a larger crowd and more donations. Their detractors wailed about the “inconvenience” of getting to the new location and predicted that the event would be a bust because folks from the downtown area would not support it.

As it turns out, it looks as if the organizers were right. They have signed up more teams to participate in the 12-hour event than last year — 69 versus 60. More individuals are registered as participants this year than last — 1,088 versus 706. And more money has been collected — $146,000 so far versus just more than $70,000 at this point last year.

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It’s likely that the event has received substantial support from those residents and businesses of North Suffolk who do not feel connected to the downtown area and its causes; the jury is still out on whether the folks from downtown were willing, after all, to travel to the other side of the city to support the event.

And while it will be interesting and somewhat useful to future marketing of the event to learn just where the majority of the support came from, what’s important right now is that there is every statistical reason to believe that the Relay will be a resounding success in its new location.

What’s even more important, however, is the fact that there’s still time to help it become an actual success, rather than just a statistically likely one. There’s still time to buy a luminaria in honor of someone you know who has died from cancer. There’s still time to plan to participate in activities and contests at the event; there’s still time to commit to a donation to the cause; there’s even still time to organize a team, get pledges of support and walk the track during the event.

Cancer kills a distressing number of mothers, fathers, sons and daughters each year, and research into its cure continues to be expensive. The Relay for Life is one of the biggest fundraisers for that research that exists. Find a way to support it on Friday by stopping at Bennett’s Creek Park for a while, even if it’s just to give moral support to the cancer survivors and to the survivors of those who have died from the disease.

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