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More people volunteer for American Cancer Society Relay for Life, but donations decline
Samantha Oller plays with a bubble maker May 15 at the North Forsyth Middle School Peace Love Cure tent during the Relay For Life event at the Cumming Fairgrounds. - photo by EMILY SAUNDERS

Relay for Life

  • The Jackson County Relay for Life will be held Friday and Saturday at East Jackson Comprehensive High School, 1435 Hoods Mill Road, Commerce. Go online at to donate.
  • Relay for Life of Hall County will be held June 5-6 at Road Atlanta, 5300 Braselton Highway, Braselton. Go online at to donate.

The economy may be in a recession, but American Cancer Society officials say support is strong for its annual Relay for Life fundraisers.

"Fundraising is down about 12 percent, but in these economic times, that’s not bad," said Rena Pendley, who is a senior community manager for the American Cancer Society. "However, in terms of teams and the number of team members, participation has been exceedingly great. Despite the economy being down, participants see the Relay for Life not just as an event, but as a very worthwhile cause, so I think that is at least partially why participation is continuing to grow."

Relay for Life is an annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in which team members take turns walking or running around the designated track. The overnight event lasts for up to 24 hours and teams are required to have representation on the track for the entire relay.

"Participation is surpassing that of previous years," said Pendley. "For example, White County has already held their relay event. Last year, they had about 28 local teams. This year, they had 48."

Each participating relay site is given a different fundraising goal. The money raised during the events is used to help fund cancer research.

"We’re not speaking a lot about monetary goals because we set those goals last year before (the economic downturn) really hit," said Pendley. "So we’re not really pushing counties to reach those goals, but if they do that would be nice."

Dawson County’s Relay for Life was held on May 9 and Dawson relay officials report that with the 19 participating teams, they were able to reach their $50,000 goal.

According to Forsyth County Relay for Life officials, they are still collecting donations from the event that was held on May 15, but are close to reaching $250,000 of the $275,000 goal.

Although many area counties have already held their Relay for Life events for the year, there are several like Hall and Jackson counties that will hold relay events in upcoming weeks.

The Jackson County Relay for Life is Friday and Saturday and the Hall County Relay for Life will be June 5 and 6.

"Last year, Hall County hit the $500,000 mark for the first time," said Pendley. "With 125 teams, I think they’re definitely on track to hit (the county’s) $560,000 goal."

So far, almost $75,000 has been raised by 487 participants in the Jackson relay and $331,000 has been raised by Hall County’s 2,030 participants, according to the American Cancer Society’s relay Web site.

Regional events