This year’s Richmond Hill Relay for Life event has been deemed a success and resulted in the community raising $97,000 for cancer research.
Even though the coordinators had set a goal of $118,000 and it was a bit shy of last year’s $115,000 returns, no complaints could be heard about this year’s proceeds.
"Overall, the event was better than what I thought it would be," said David Aspinwall, who headed the committee’s corporate sponsorship drive. "Anytime we can make $100,000 for a worthy cause, I’m tickled."
Aspinwall said that he has hopes of raising even more money as he is going to continue to pursue additional corporate sponsors. He has more than a passing interest in cancer research, as he himself is a cancer victim. Thankfully, he has been cancer-free since 2003, but is fighting for those who are not as fortunate.
About 2,000 people came out to J.F. Gregory Park on Friday night for the event that lasted until 7 a.m. the following morning.
"Everybody had a great time," said event chairperson Christy Crowley. "There was lots of entertainment and games all through the night."
The opening ceremonies included a performance from the RHMS band, followed by the "survivors’ walk" which consisted of a large group of local cancer survivors walking around the park to initiate the first relay walk."All of them are our friends and neighbors here in Richmond Hill who have battled back from this deadly dis
ease," said Crowley. "And that’s really the heart and soul of what this function is all about."
Several other teams, 20 in all, made sponsored laps around the park which helped raise the funds. Other funds were garnered from corporate sponsorship and actual events that took place that night.
The most lucrative, and most entertaining according to many who attended, individual activity of the evening was the male beauty pageant which raised $4,000 and saw several local men dress in women’s clothing.
The winner, decided by the individual who collected the most donations in their purse while parading through the crowd, was Old Lady Valentine, a.k.a. Carver art teacher Wes Valentine. RHMS assistant principal Tom Montgomery, stage name Ophelia Rump, came in second.
Other activities included a banana eating contest, musical chairs, hula hoop contest, karaoke and a "trashy fashion show" where contestants were challenged to make costumes out of scraps of clothing and household good.
Several groups performed including Kelly Creek Studio dancers and Miysom, a popular Christian rock band.
An emotional luminary service took place with luminaries on display which were purchased by attendees to recognize loved ones who died from cancer. A slide show of cancer victims displayed while singers from Arts on the Coast performed.
In the early hours of the morning, Richmond Hill resident Wayne Jackson cooked breakfast for those in attendance, supplied by the Exchange Club, while Planning and Zoning Director Steve Scholar and his son Chris helped to feed those who were still in attendance after toughing it out all night.
The theme of this year’s Relay was "jump on board, cancer is not a game" which entailed each group’s booth under the pavilion to feature a board game. Event coordinators graded the booths with first place going to Carver Elementary for their depiction of "Hungry, Hungry Hippos" while Richmond Hill Middle School won second place for a booth based on the game "Battleship".
The overall winning team of the event was RHMS with $23,000 raised. Second was Richmond Hill Car Wash with $19,000, with Carver at third by collecting $13,500.
Special awards were also given out to Curves for Rookie Team of the Year and RHHS student council for Most Spirited. Crowley said that the RHHS group was picked for having a very large group that enthusiastically participated all through the night.
If you still would like to help the Richmond Hill Relay for Life and American Cancer Society, it’s not too late. To donate, call Aspinwall at 727-2324.
You could also help the cause by participating in the North Bryan Relay for Life which is happening this weekend. The event will take place in Hendrix Park and go from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday morning.