Merced’s 16th annual Relay for Life raised more than $103,000 for cancer research and prevention over the weekend.
Although the amount raised fell below the goal of $198,000, the event was considered a success by event organizers.
“The American Cancer Society is going through some transformation and we did have a smaller relay this year, but overall it was still a pretty successful event,” said Relay for Life’s Jessica Chamberlain.
The 24-hour event took place at Merced College Stadium where about 800 people gathered in support of friends and family members who have been affected by cancer.
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Relay For Life is among the largest fundraising events organized by the American Cancer Society. It is a community gathering in which participants form teams and camp out overnight. Team members take turns walking around a track. Because cancer never sleeps, teams must have at least one member on the track all times. An estimated 4 million people participate in Relay for Life events in 20 countries.
The purpose of the event is to raise money that goes to cancer research. Each participant is asked to raise a minimum of $100.
Last year, the event raised about $185,000.
Besides raising money, the event also helps raise awareness about the importance of cancer prevention.
Some people, such as lead volunteer Melissa Puita, believe Relay for Life is one of the best ways to raise awareness in the community. She has participated in the event for six years and has strong personal reasons for doing so.
“The reason I do Relay for Life is because my mom is a two-time cancer survivor,” Puita said. “All my family has been affected one way or another, and I don’t want my future kids to grow up in a world where there is still no cure for cancer.”
Volunteers will soon start working on next year’s relay, Chamberlain said.
“This is a volunteer-based event. People donate their time and they work really hard to make this happen,” she said. “From what I saw, people had fun. There was great information available and survivors were honored. All in all it was a great event. I can’t wait to have a bigger and better event next year.”