2014 Cass County Relay for Life raises more than $25,000
Published 8:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2014
While they might not have been wearing vibrant spandex costumes or demonstrating extraordinary feats of superhuman ability, the men and women walking the track outside Dowagiac Union High School this weekend were heroes to many in the area.
Thirteen teams and 146 participants raised more than $25,000 for cancer research for this year’s Cass County Relay for Life, which took place on Saturday and Sunday. Representatives from each participating team took turns walking the track, while hosting raffles, food and craft sales and other events to raise additional funds for the American Cancer Society.
Organizers for this year’s event hoped to raise $40,000 by the end of the weekend. This number is slightly down from the $50,000 they had originally set as its goal at the start of this year’s Relay season.
“This year’s event has been a time for us to rebuild,” said Caralee Waswick, with the American Cancer Society of Southwest Michigan.
A number of setbacks have beset the planning for this year’s event, including the fact that the Relay was moved up to May instead of August like it has been in previous years, Waswick said.
“We had to condense what is normally a year-long process into a five-month schedule,” she said. “However, our planning committee did a phenomenal job on such a shortened schedule. We’ve also seen some good support from the community this year.”
Two new teams were present at this year’s relay, one from the Mane Attraction and the other from Honor Credit Union named “Battle Scars.” The number of sponsors was up from last year, with six new companies offering support for cancer awareness.
Among the teams present at this year’s walkathon was Michiana Church of Christ’s “Mighty Messengers,” led by team captain Kristina Davidson. The group was wearing T-shirts that had a modified version of the classic Superman emblem on them, with a cross instead an “S.” The shirt was in line with the relay’s theme of superheroes.
Davidson has participated in the event for the past two years, after she lost her grandmother to cancer, she said.
“Our church has lost a lot of members to cancer over the years,” Davidson said. “When one our church family members is hurt, we all hurt.”
Despite the smaller scale of this year’s event, there was still plenty of generosity to go around this weekend, she said. One person had even written the church a $75 check for donation on Saturday, she said.
“Cass County isn’t considered on of the wealthiest regions in the county, so for us to raise what we have so far has been tremendous,” Davidson said.
In addition to gaining additional teams, organizers are looking to register more cancer survivors for next year. While around 80 participated in the relay this weekend, the committee hopes to have most of the estimated 300 cancer survivors in the area come out next time, said event Chair Terri Schmidt.
Schmidt said what really made this year’s event emotional for her was the fact that she had lost her grandfather at the beginning of the year to the disease, Schmidt said.
“I’m very happy with the job the committee did this year,” she said. “They went above and beyond to make this event work as well as it did.”