On April 12 and 13, community teams, friends and family descended upon Mackle Park for 14 hours to “Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back” at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. This year, the signature event was presented by one of our long time supporters, Robert J. Flugger. The theme was “A World of Hope,” and all of the teams selected a country to inspire them beginning with fundraising to campsite decorations to the food sold by their teams. There was a tremendous cultural and international vibe at the event, and participants and guests enjoyed visiting each team to see what they had to offer.
I want to thank our committee, teams, sponsors, survivors, caregivers and all who supported Relay For Life by participating in our fundraisers these past few months and by joining us at the event. Because of your generosity we have raised over $235,000 that will be used to support the mission of the American Cancer Society; the goal is to fund programs and research that benefit everyone in our community who has been touched by cancer or who unfortunately may face it in the future.
It was a day full of emotions that honored our survivors and allowed us to remember those we have lost in an atmosphere of hope and optimism. Our DJ and emcee for the event, Jacob Hurtley, kicked off Relay For Life with the opening ceremony by introducing the Color Guard from the Knights of Columbus. They marched around the track, carrying our nation’s flag, as Marva Sutt sang the National Anthem. Jamie Bergen led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Marco Island City Council Vice Chairman, Larry Sacher, presented a proclamation from the City of Marco Island to Relay For Life Chairman, Raul Medina. Presenting sponsor Robert J. Flugger welcomed the crowd and teams thanking them for their support and all their hard work. Judy Mayo presented the Sandy Holdgate “Spirit of Relay” Award to Donna Cottrell, a cancer survivor and Relay advocate for many years. Cottrell was very surprised by the recognition and seeing her entire family there to support her. Donna has been an integral part of the success of the Marco Island Relay For Life for many years, and I am honored to have her on our team. Our survivor chairs, Judy Mayo and Cathy Nelson, then announced our Survivor and Caregiver laps and Relay For Life was on its way.
As darkness enveloped the park, almost 2,000 luminarias that were placed and lit by our three local girl scout troops cast a beautiful glow as everyone stopped their walking for the Luminaria Ceremony. Relayers, guests, survivors and caregivers took a few moments to pause and reflect about loved ones who had survived or been lost to cancer. The program by all accounts was inspiring, and as the walkers continued the luminarias burned throughout the night to remind all of us about why Relay For Life is so important. Thank you to Marco Island Fire and Rescue, LCEC and Frank Steiger Photography for working together to take the beautiful aerial picture of our Luminaria message.
At its core, Relay For Life is made possible by individuals and teams working together to raise money for the American Cancer Society. This year we had 30 teams from our community participate, and I want to thank and recognize all of them: 7-11, Bistro Soleil, Chick’s Against Cancer and 1 Cool Dude, Capri Cancer Kickers, City of Hope (City of Marco Island), Costa Rican Trojans from Lely High School, Crystal Shores Crusaders, Edison State College, The Flamingos, Hideaway, Marco Island Hilton, Keller Williams, Kriger Orthodontics, Little Chicks and Little Dudes Against Cancer, Marco Island Academy Rays, Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa, My Marco Properties, Preferred Care Home Health, South Seas East Condos, Spicy Lady Saucy Girl, St. Mark’s Preschool and Friends, Vida Del Sol (SuntrustBank), Starbucks, Team BMO, Team Campos, Marco Island Toastmasters, Walgreens, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, and YPN Against Cancer. These teams worked tirelessly all year raising money and preparing for the event. Leading the top five in fundraising again this year is Hideaway Chips Away at Cancer followed in order by the Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa, Keller Williams Realty, Chicks Against Cancer and One Cool Dude, and Bistro Soleil’s “Fight Like a Girl.”
Congratulations to all of our teams and thank you for all you are doing in the fight against cancer. I hope to see all of you back and ready to fight next year!
We are so grateful for all of the support from our event sponsors, track marker sponsors, media sponsors and in-kind donors for their contributions to the success of the Marco Island Relay For Life. Their generosity and commitment to the community and to the mission of the American Cancer Society is recognized and appreciated by everyone involved in Relay For Life. I encourage you to review the list of sponsors and in-kind donors whom we thank in this paper and that you will patronize their businesses and thank them for their support of Relay For Life.
To all of our event sponsors – Robert J. Flugger (Presenting), Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort and Spa (Silver), Preferred Care Home Health Services (Bronze), VITAS Innovative Hospice Care (Luminaria), Riverchase Dermatology (Survivor), Kriger Orthodontics (Kid’s Activity Area), and to Physicians Regional Healthcare System, Complete Stone Management, and Baer’s Furniture (Finish The Fight Sponsors) – thank you for everything. To our Media Sponsors: WAVV 101.1, Coastal Breeze News, Marco Eagle, and 98.1 The Island, we thank you for spreading the word, telling our stories and advertising Relay on your stations and in your papers. We were really excited about the support our teams received from Track Marker Sponsors: CMSI Wound Care, Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Specialists, Clinical Compound, New Balance, Mango’s Dockside Bistro, Sandy Elliott Interiors, AP Builders, Rich Jones Electric and LCEC. Finally, to all of our in-kind donors who donate their time, talent and services either free of charge or well below cost, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
An event the size of Relay For Life would not be possible without an amazing group of volunteer committee members who were led by Event Chair Raul Medina. In addition to Raul, thank you to Jamie Bergen, Cathy Claussen Neff, Tennille Tateo, Cathy Nelson, Judy Mayo, Kate Whitson, Donna Cottrell, Bud Palmer, Angela Palmer, Loni Atton, Chris Pritchard, Juli Ronimous, Oana Stanoiu, Amy Bortzfield, Nancy Brewer, Betsy Stahlhuth, Brandon Glanville and all of their volunteers for all of their hard work to make Relay For Life 2014 so successful. After two years as Chair, Raul Medina is passing the torch to Jamie Bergen, our newly named 2015 Relay For Life Chair. We want to thank Raul for his leadership, dedication and passion these last two years and congratulate him for two very successful Relay For Life events.
Residents, visitors and businesses in Marco Island, Goodland and Isles of Capri are incredibly generous and all of us want to thank you for supporting our fundraisers and contributing to The American Cancer Society. If you’d like to learn more about Relay For Life and how you can join us, contact the American Cancer Society Marco Island at 239-642-8800 ext. 3890.
This is an ongoing series of columns dedicated to informing the Marco Island community about The American Cancer Society, the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. The Marco Island American Cancer Society office is located at 583 Tallwood, Unit 101 and is open daily from 9AM-5PM. For more information about volunteer opportunities, events and services please contact Lisa Honig at 239-642-8800 ext. 3891.