Strong support from local residents, businesses and organizations were the reason the 2012 Warren County Relay for Life surpassed fundraising and attendance goals according to event organizers.
Sheila Gruenefeld, who served as co-chairperson along with Carrie Biggs, reported the event raised at least $57,500, surpassing a goal of $50,000.
The event, sponsored by Relay for Life of Warren County and the American Cancer Society, was held at Black Hawk Middle School in Warrenton.
It began at 6 p.m. Friday, June 1, and concluded at 6 a.m. Saturday.
“Our best estimate is that we had about 2,000 people Friday night,” said Gruenefeld.Gruenefeld and Biggs along with other volunteers kept up a brisk pace as they registered participants, handed out information and monitored a schedule of events ranging from opening ceremonies through the lighting of luminarias, the arrival of St. Louis Cardinals mascot Fredbird, musical acts and activities that continued into the night and ended the next morning.
Approximately 25 organizations and groups erected tents around the school’s track. Some of the groups sold meals and refreshments for donations, and others offered special products — from tutus to bracelets — to commemorate the cause and raise money.
For most, it was a family event as caregivers and supporters joined survivors for a chilly night full of fun, inspiration and mingling with other survivors, families and neighbors in the community. It also was a chance to share stories and encouragement.
“I’m a three-time cancer survivor, so I’m a little tired after walking,” said David Wilmsmeyer, who rested on a bench after participating with his family in the survivor and caregiver lap. Wilmsmeyer is retiring soon after 49 years at SAF Holland.
Dawn Annette Woolliscroft, of Warrenton, talked about her travels to Tulsa, Okla., for treatment for her CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia).
“It’s a great approach, since the facility brings all your doctors and specialists to you in one room,” she said, noting that she travels every 28 days to get treatment there.
Diana Gibbs, a nurse in Warrenton, offered an upbeat message about survival. Gibbs is an 11-year survivor of pancreatic cancer.
“I’m one of those people who is beating the odds with this type of cancer in large part because of early detection,” said Gibbs, who says she loves to tell her story to others for encouragement.
All money raised at the event will go to support cancer research, prevention, education, advocacy and patient services through the American Cancer Society.