2018-02-08 / News

Relay for Life moving from Davison to county venue New walk to be held at Dort Federal Credit Union arena

By Ben Gagnon
Contributor


Kimber Griffiths, left, of Siple Elementary in Davison, and a Relay volunteer, with Head Volunteer Heidi Varner at the Kickoff Event. 
Photo by Ben Gagnon Kimber Griffiths, left, of Siple Elementary in Davison, and a Relay volunteer, with Head Volunteer Heidi Varner at the Kickoff Event. Photo by Ben Gagnon FLINT — Relay for Life of Genesee County held a special Kickoff Thursday night build excitement for its 2018 fundraising campaign.

The event, which was coordinated by the American Cancer Society and held at Powers Catholic High School, gathered dozens of local Relay volunteers and cancer survivors to prepare for changes to the Relay format.

Many participants were decked out in purple to celebrate this year’s Disney theme, which ties in with the regional Relay’s mission to “wish for a cure.”

“Every year, we pick a new theme for the [Kickoff] event,” said Mike Powell, community development manager for the American Cancer Society’s Flint office. “We were inspired by Disney and the different fun things you can do with a Disney theme. It adds some flavor to the Relay.”


Kimber Griffiths and Mike Powell address volunteers at the Relay for Life kickoff event. 
Photo by Ben Gagnon Kimber Griffiths and Mike Powell address volunteers at the Relay for Life kickoff event. Photo by Ben Gagnon In addition to recognizing survivors, caregivers and team leaders, the event also gave participants the chance to register for the countywide Relay at the Dort Federal Event Center on June 23.

So far, 13 teams have signed up.

“It’s a time to remember and celebrate the people [you] know and love that are fighting the fight, or have lost their fight, against cancer,” Powell said.

Several Genesee area communities, including Davison, have hosted their own individual Relay events in years past. But in an effort to increase donor funds and turnout, the American Cancer Society is consolidating the gatherings into one large event.

“I am confident that it’s going to be a blast,” said Jenni Beamer, a Davison resident. “I would encourage survivors to come out so that they know that they’re not along.”

Beamer, 37, has been involved with Relays in Davison and East Lansing for 19 years. She said that the events are a great way for communities to rally against cancer.

“We’re all bonded together because we all want to fight back against a disease that’s taken too much from us,” she said. “It’s a real learning opportunity for our kids to give back and get involved in the community.”

Kickoff night also provided Relay-goers and volunteers with the opportunity to become part of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (CAN).

Heidi Varner, a volunteer with CAN and a cervical cancer survivor, spoke about her organization’s impact on health care legislation in Lansing, as well as her personal efforts to lobby for increased funding for cancer research grants.

Powell described CAN as the American Cancer Society’s political side that lobbies for better patient care and pushes for initiatives such as Smoke-Free Michigan.

“There’s different parts of health care, bills that deal with cancer…that’s what [members of CAN] fight for,” he said.

By the end of the night, 20 participants had signed up to become CAN members.

Powell said that seeing such a high level of community involvement—along with early entries for the June Relay—is an encouraging sign for this year’s fundraising efforts.

To learn more about this year’s Relay for Life, visit RelayForLife.org/Genesee CountyMI or contact the American Cancer Society’s regional office at 810- 733-3703.

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