Customers in downtown Gainesville helped fund cancer research Wednesday by participating in Relay on the Square.
Numerous Hall County restaurants and stores donated 10 percent of their proceeds Wednesday to the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event, which raises money for cancer research.
The donation day kick-started the American Cancer Society’s "Paint the Town Purple" celebration, which culminates in the Relay for Life event on June 5 at Road Atlanta.
Many Relay for Life teams also set up additional booths to raise money for the cause.
Marie Savino, the Marina Bay team captain and a member of the Relay for Life Planning Committee, said she was sitting at Elmo’s Italian Kitchen on the square when she came up with the idea as a way to make fundraising easier during the recession.
"It gets people to come to the square for the merchants and also raise money for the American Cancer Society," Savino said. "Everyone can afford to come and get a slice of pizza."
Savino said business owners were very responsive to the idea.
"They said we need to make more use out of the square and get the community out here," she said.
Aside from the many store owners participating Wednesday, a number of other businesses and individuals set up temporary booths offering unique products or services to raise money for the cause.
Kelsey Whalen, a designer for Princeton Salon and Spa, sold purple hair extensions to represent the official color of Relay for Life.
"Our salon is really into giving back to the community," Whalen said. "Us coming out here, it helps the community and people learn about us."
Liz Mumpower, owner of Lizzy Lou Designs, set up a booth and sold her own embroidered products.
Mumpower is also a member of United Community Bank’s relay team.
"This is my fundraiser for my team," Mumpower said. "A minimum of 10 percent will go to Relay, but I’m hoping to have a really good day and do more than that."
In addition to local business donations, Joy Griffin, community manager for the American Cancer Society’s Gainesville location, said 121 Hall County teams, including a team from The Times, are signed up to raise money for Relay for Life. She said the Hall County cancer organization hopes to raise $578,000 this year, which would top the $553,809 it raised last year. The teams have already raised $162,064.