Hundreds of residents throughout Exeter Township laced their best walking shoes this past weekend to participate in the annual Relay for Life.
Exeter Relay For Life, held the weekend of June 14 and 15, was hosted by the high school for the first time in years. Having the event on the track and turf generated interested students, facility, school clubs and organizations and sports teams to donate their time.
Around 400 participants stocked 28 teams for this year’s “Crusin’ for a Cause” theme.
“We had a lot of school involvement this year,” Amy Miller, American Cancer Society, said. “Clubs came out, it has been fantastic! And that’s not included in the 400 number, they’re additional guests and helpers.”
Each team was instructed to take “Crusin’ for a Cure” as a jumping off point to a cruise destination theme. Tropical food, fruit, leis, and assorted Hawaiian decorations brought the theme to life, with tents ranging from Titanic to a tropical paradise resort. The traditional banner contest invited cancer survivors of the crowd to vote and cast their ballot. Teams displayed their banner during the opening ceremonies; the winner of the contest was awarded a bonus to be included in their fundraising efforts.
At the event kick-off, the teams collectively raised $80,000 of their $115,000 goal which deadlines at the end of August. All proceeds of the event are donated to finding a cure for cancer and are allotted to the American Cancer Society.
“We’ve lost our parents and family to cancer,” Kathi Raifsnider, Muhlenberg, said. Raifsnider was part of the Dragonflies team. “We wanted to come out to support the cause.”
For most participants, the event strikes a personal cord.
“I’ve been doing this 17 years,” Ann Schweitzer, Exeter Township, said. Schweitzer, a survivor herself, previously walked with a group of survivors.
Now she comes out to support the memory of her son Johnny, who died of cancer.
Mike Burkhart, co-chairman of the Exeter Relay for Life, has been involved with the organization for the past seven years. Burkhart began as a participant walking in the event for the first two years, but as time went on the cause grew nearer and dearer to him personally. Many of his family and friends were diagnosed with cancer and dying from the disease, which led Burkhart to continue with efforts to fund research for the cure for cancer.
“It’s phenomenal to work with these people, it’s a great experience,” Burkhart said. “I will be doing Relay until I can’t walk anymore.”
Many dedicated participants come back year after year, with hopes of finding a cure for cancer.
Presenting sponsors Diamond Credit Union and the McGlinn Family Regional Cancer Center, Reading Hospital both donated $15,000 to the American Cancer Society.
To donate to Relay for Life of Exeter, find their page on rlay.acsevents.org.
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