Celebrate, remember, fight back against cancer

By Sarah Pridgeon


Crook County’s annual Relay For Life fundraiser will take place in September this year, making the most of the summer sunshine with grass skirts and leis in a luau-themed celebration. In the meantime, you can contribute to the global and local cause by donating, fundraising, heading a relay team or joining the Devils Tower Relay For Life committee.

“We’re trying to get anyone and everyone to sign up this year,” explains Kasey Stroud, Event Chair. “It’s game on with anything you want to give, whether that’s time, money or signing up to volunteer!”

As well as attracting new participants, the committee hopes that 2013 will be a record fundraising year for Crook County’s relay teams.

“The American Cancer Society sets our goal from previous years,” she goes on. “In 2013 it’s to raise $45,000 after expenses and to sign up 30 teams – we had 27 last year. It’s very ambitious, so we’re really hoping that we can get some new teams signed up this year.”

Relay For Life is a global phenomenon that raises much-needed funds and awareness in the battle against cancer. More than 4 million people in over 20 countries take part and Crook County has a proud history of contributing its efforts to the cause.

“Lots of people don’t realize that Relay For Life is more than just one event a year,” Stroud says. “Most of our teams fundraise all year long – Kelly Mathis’s team in Sundance has raised $1100 already, for example.”

September’s relay will have a luau theme. “We’ve never had warm weather before so we could ‘think warm’ when we were planning – we’ve always had to think what we can do inside the tent, next to the heater,” laughs Stroud.

The event will continue all night long to mark the one day of the year when friends, family and supporters can stand together with their loved ones. “Cancer doesn’t sleep, so we don’t sleep,” Stroud says.

As well as the traditional track event, when members of each relay team will take turns walking around the track, the relay will feature entertainment and celebrations the whole night through, including minute-to-minute games and activities such as a dunk tank, cake walk and karaoke. Last year, for instance, The Lodge, Deadwood donated a $250 gift certificate and goodie basket as prizes for the campsite decorating contest.

“We want to do big prizes to get people involved and on-site fundraisers will also be going on,” Stroud explains. “If anyone wanted to donate prizes or monetary contributions that would be phenomenal, as we’re always shorter than we’d like to be.”

The triple goals of Relay For Life are to celebrate, remember and fight back. The event will simultaneously celebrate Survivors and the fight they’ve won, remember those who have been lost and offer support to those still fighting.

One of the most important moments will be the luminaria ceremony, in which hundreds of lanterns are released into the night sky, each adorned with decorations from local art classes and hand-written names remembering loved ones lost to cancer and honoring those battling the disease. After a salute from the bagpipes, their names will be read out one by one.

The major goal for the Devils Tower Relay For Life committee this year is to educate the community about where the money goes after it’s been raised and make those fighting cancer aware of the programs available to them.

“One of them is ‘Look Good, Feel Better’,” says Stroud. “It makes trained cosmetologists available to women who’ve undergone chemotherapy, which can change your skin and doesn’t just cause you to lose the hair on your head. It shows them how to look after their skin and do their make-up and nails, as well as wigs, eyebrows and eyelashes.”

Other accessible programs, all of which benefit from the money raised locally, include “Man To Man”, a support group for men dealing with prostate cancer, “Reach To Recovery”, a one-on-one visitation program for women facing breast cancer, and “Road To Recovery”, in which volunteers drive patients to and from their treatments. The American Cancer Society also provides Hope Lodge facilities through Relay For Life funds, free and comfortable accommodations for patients and their caregivers while they focus on getting well.

“Some treatment programs can cost up to $10,000 a day, and that’s not even including expenses such as travel and hotel,” says Stroud, explaining how each individual program aims to relieve a small amount of the burden cancer can cause. “It’s a huge expense and all the little things start to add up.”

More information about the help Relay For Life can offer is available on the official website at www.relayforlife.org In the months between now and the luau, keep your eyes peeled for smaller local appearances, such as the information booth at the Crook County Health Fair; the planning committee will meanwhile be holding its April meeting on April 6, 10:30 a.m. at the Best Western and invites any and all participation.

Devils Tower Relay For Life is seeking new planning committee members to help organize the event and raise funds. Chairs are assigned to best fit your skill-set and, if you are nervous about serving, you are welcome to spend a year as a floater before taking a chair or to co-chair with a friend or colleague.

“It’s not hugely time-consuming, either,” promises Stroud. “There are no positions that ask for more than 15 hours per month.”

Similarly, a mentoring program is available if you would like to start your own relay team but aren’t sure how to go about it. A successful team can guide you and give you pointers to help you get started.

Relay for Life 2013 is scheduled for September 6 at the Devils Tower KOA. To sign up, donate or find out about local fundraising events, visit the Devils Tower Relay For Life website at www.relayforlife.org/crookwy

To contact a member of Devils Tower Relay For Life to offer donations or prizes, join the committee or simply to find out more, contact Kasey Stroud on 331-0346. To nominate a Survivor, call Survivorship Chairperson Florence Reynolds at 467-5604 or to sponsor Relay For Life in any way call Kelly Mathis, Sponsorship Chair at 605-430-6334.

Relay For Life meeting this Saturday

The Devils Tower Relay For Life Planning Committee would like to remind everyone that the April meetings will be held on Saturday, April 6 at the Best Western in Sundance. The Team Captains will meet at 10:30 a.m. to deposit any funds raised, discuss fundraising information, online registration and address any questions or concerns. The Planning Committee will begin at 11:30 a.m. Again any persons wishing to participate in any way are welcome to attend the team captain meeting.

A reminder to everyone that our Relay For Life event date has been moved to September 6 this year. The theme this year is Luau, so bring your grass skirts and leis and let’s get our hula on!

If you know of any survivors please get a hold of our Survivorship Chairperson Florence Reynolds at 467-5604. You can also contact the Event Chair Kasey Stroud with any other questions at (307) 331-0346.