MINT HILL – It’s just days into the fundraising season for Relay For Life of Matthews-Mint Hill, but event organizers are already moving full steam ahead toward what they hope will be the most successful event the area has seen.
The Relay For Life of Matthews-Mint Hill committee hosted a kickoff event at Moe’s Original Bar B Que in Matthews earlier this month, where members discussed plans for this year’s event – recruiting team sponsors, retaining Relay For Life teams who’ve participated in years past and meeting the 2014 goal of $40,000.
Twelve teams and a total of 40 participants have committed to the event, and they’ve already raised $1,300, according to Olivia Hernandez, area specialist for Relay For Life.
“I think 2014 holds great things for Matthews-Mint Hill,” Hernandez said. “We’re ahead in numbers compared to last year, (and it) is exciting to see the growth.”
The event is scheduled to take place May 16, a Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Mint Hill Veterans Park, previously Mint Hill’s Park on Fairview, 8850 Fairview Road. Cancer survivors, activists and community members will unite in an effort to raise funds for the American Cancer Society while also promoting cancer awareness. Participants will spend the night walking around the track at the park, while various activities and live entertainment continue until the event concludes at 6 a.m. the following morning.
Hernandez said the main goal for 2014 is to improve participant experience. Committee members are working hard to line up a variety of quality entertainment to keep people engaged, particularly for the 2 to 5 a.m. stretch, when they tend to lose energy and head home, she said.
Other plans include kids’ activities – bounce houses, carnival activities and more – as well as a scavenger hunt with clues highlighting important cancer facts.
“Our mission is having information in an engaging way … so it’s not only fun, but also teaching,” she said. “(The scavenger hunt) is a great way to combine both.”
Committee members will spend the next several months recruiting previous teams while encouraging new participants to sign up. Monthly committee meetings also devote time to discussing how the funds raised through Relay For Life help the American Cancer Society and, ultimately, cancer patients.
“Each month, they have a mission moment, tying in why we do what we do,” Hernandez said. “… We’ll show a story or a video of why we do this and talk about how the money (benefits) the programs that the organization provides.”
The American Cancer Society provides more cancer research than any other organization in the U.S., except the federal government, having provided $3.9 billion in research grants through Relay funds alone, Hernandez said.
But Relay dollars aren’t limited to research – they also directly benefit people diagnosed with cancer through various programs including the Hope Lodge, which helps cover lodging costs for cancer patients undergoing treatment away from home, and Road to Recovery, which provides free transportation to and from treatment sessions and doctor visits.
The American Cancer Society provided more than 16,500 rides in 2013 through the Road to Recovery program, and nearly 50,000 people saved a total of more than $27 million in lodging costs through the Hope Lodge, Hernandez said.
“Our fundraising dollars truly do make a difference in the fight against cancer,” she said, adding the greatest hope for Relay For Life is to continue supporting programs for cancer patients while working toward a world without cancer.
Find more information about Relay For Life of Matthews-Mint Hill and sign up to participate at www.relayforlife.org/mmhnc.
Also, the Ballantyne area recently started its own Relay For Life event, which will take place this year on June 13 at the Morrison Family YMCA, 9405 Bryant Farms Road in Charlotte.