Weekend’s Relay for Life raises $133,000 to help fight cancer

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Forty teams and 100 cancer survivors raised more than $133,000 at this year's Relay for Life held at the Niles High School track on Saturday.
According to event organizers, that is approximately $2,000 more than was raised last year.
Tallis is pleased to see everybody came together for the entirely volunteer driven event.
She is also glad Relay for Life gets strong support from the Niles community.
Shelly Stockbarger, community development director for Cass and Berrien counties, started Relay for Life in Niles in 1997.
Still on the organizing committee, she is glad to see the event grow and become increasingly successful each year.
Stockbarger said most of the teams are from the Niles-Buchanan area, but one team from the University of Notre Dame, Ind. also participated.
The top individual participant at this year's Relay was Wayne Piddy of South Bend, Ind.
Piddy, who raised $3,300, got involved with Relay for Life with his family four years ago, after his daughter died of cancer, Stockbarger said.
She said the top team was Niles-based Bruce's Brigade who raised $18,000.
The event also featured a Little Miss Relay for Life beauty pageant where girls dressed up and walked around the stadium.
Combined the girls raised $3,000, Stockbarger said.
Although walking was the main ingredient at Saturday's event, several activities took place concurrently with the walking.
Stockbarger said the Doug Leiter Band from Buchanan provided live music.
The event also featured a lip-sync contest, a Mr. Relay event and three different baseball tournaments.
She also said the event organizers did the survivor session and dinner completely different than they have done in the past.
Instead of gathering the survivors for food in the morning, Stockbarger said they chose to gather them in the evening instead. "I think the survivors really enjoyed it being in the evening," she said.
All of the survivors who came to the evening dinner received a t-shirt and a Relay for Life medallion.
Saturday's Relay for Life was the second held in Berrien County this year.
The Relay for Life held at Berrien County Fairgrounds in June raised $433,000, Stockbarger said.
Combined with the money raised at Niles' Relay for Life, there is a good chance Berrien County will rank high on the list of communities who per capita have raised most money through Relay for Life in the country. Stockbarger said in terms of per capita fund-raising, Berrien County ranked fourth nationwide at last year's Relay for Life.

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