ELYRIA — Last year, they raised more than $52,000 for cancer research.
As impressive as that is, it is miniscule compared with how much Relay for Life Elyria has raised over the past 18 years. The organization has generated nearly $1.5 million.
That’s $1.5 million for research, services and programs that benefit people living with cancer.
As they prepare for their 19th year on the track, organizers have set a goal of $60,000 this year to exceed the $1.5 million mark.
“It’s my passion,” said Bobbie Sears, event chairwoman and team captain of University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center PLC team.
Team PLC, which stands for Peace, Love & Care, is one of 18 teams signed up to participate in this year’s relay. The team name goes with this year’s theme of Music Through the Decades, and the hospital’s theme is Woodstock.
Sears teamed up with a woman from New York, whose father was one of the organizers of the original Woodstock. She sent Sears T-shirts, buttons, magnets and patches to sell at the event.
“Her dad died of cancer, so we’re sending her a luminaria with his name on it,” Sears said. “And we’ll take lots of pictures to send to her.”
In doing research to prepare for this year’s relay, Sears discovered there was a concession stand at the original Woodstock that was burned down because it ran out of food. Nearby farmers started making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to hand out to concertgoers.
In an effort to recreate those good vibes, Team PLC will sell peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They’ve also made tie-dye shirts to sell.
The women on the 35-member team will have flower wreaths to wear, and there will even be a Volkswagen bus on the track to add to the nostalgia.
A deejay will play music throughout the day and evening from different eras, although Sears is not sure what those eras will be.
“No one was talking,” she said. “I gave away our theme, but no one else wanted to share. It should be interesting to see which ones they pick.”
The event starts at noon Friday with the survivor’s luncheon and proceeds until 6 a.m. Saturday. In addition to food and music, the day includes prizes, raffles, kids’ games, Zumba under the stars and a scavenger hunt.
New this year will be a bell ceremony.
Anyone who has gone through cancer treatment or knows someone who has may know about the ceremonious ringing of the bell at the end of treatment to signify the patient’s cancer is in remission. The ceremony will be for those who never had a chance to ring the bell.
Additionally, Elyria Catholic Principal Amy Butler, a breast cancer survivor who was the Living Angel award recipient this year, will give the survivor speech at the Relay.
The Elyria event is the largest and oldest relay in Lorain County, said Suzi Piskur, an organizer with the Elyria Relay for Life.
There are three Relays in the county — Elyria, Wellington and Lorain. Lorain’s event takes place July 19 and 20.
“The majority of the funds raised are used for research,” Piskur said. “A lot of people from Case Western receive grants. But some of the money goes toward services and programs, like Hope Lodge. If you’re familiar with the Ronald McDonald House, it is similar to that. It’s a free place for people to stay while they are going through treatments.”
And it’s not too late to help, just head on out to the Elyria Catholic stadium on Friday and have some fun.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.