Rallying for Relay

Published 1:36 am Saturday, April 4, 2009

FRANKLIN—Ask anyone to dig deep in their pockets for a good cause, especially with a faltering economy hanging over their heads, and they’re likely to think twice about it.

Not here, though.

Not when it comes to Relay for Life, a May event to raise money for cancer awareness and research that has captured the attention, time and dollars of so many Franklin and Southampton County residents.

“When you’re in a challenging economy, fundraising becomes a challenge,” said Jane Riddick-Fries, who is the publicity chair for the local event. “Whether we raise $1 or $1 million, every bit helps.”

Teams with Franklin-Southampton Relay for Life continue to come up with creative ways to raise money before the Relay, which will take place starting at 10 a.m. at BFCU Field on Stewart Drive in Franklin.

There have been womanless beauty pageants, benefit breakfasts, car and motorcycle rallies and chicken dinners. Purple potties and pink flamingos have dotted area lawns.

WLQM-FM is raffling off a signed Lady Antebellum guitar. Tickets ($1 for one and $5 for seven) are available from any Relay team member.

And, with Easter rapidly approaching, there promises to be many more springtime events, including bake sales, egg hunts and more.

“April is an active month for fundraising,” said Kathy Worrell, one of four Relay for Life chairs here.

Worrell stays especially busy. She works with the more than 300 local survivors, does lots of paperwork and is on the entertainment committee.

“This is very dear to my heart,” Worrell said. “My father was diagnosed with cancer one month and gone the next. I don’t want to see other people lose their loved ones.”

One brand new team has been especially active with fundraising — the SMH Lifesavers, also known as the “flush cancer” group because of the purple potties they are toting around town to raise funds. The group gets paid $30 to distribute potties into yards. Homeowners pay another $20 to have them moved.

“We’ve made about $1,200 on the potty alone,” said Dawn Purvis. “Our team has made $10,000 so far.”

And they’re still going strong.

They’ve done raffles and bake sales, sold cookbooks and more.

“We are doing Rock-a-thon at East Pavilion,” where participants can rock in rocking chairs to raise money,” Purvis said. “You can rock in memory or honor of someone who has battled cancer and get sponsors to pledge money for the time you rock or sponsor you per minute.”

The team will sell more $15 cookbooks and raffle tickets for a handmade afghan.

On Monday starting at 9 a.m. several local attorneys, government officials and other well-known members of the community will participate (willingly, we think) in a lock-up at the Administration Center in Courtland. There, the participants will be “jailed” until they raise the $50 bond money to get out.

“Come out and gawk, throw peanuts at the inmates, give money,” said Amy Leaman, one of the “inmates.”

“I hear the jailers will be taking bribes to keep people in longer.”

Since it started, the local Relay has now raised more than $1.85 million to battle cancer. In fact, Franklin/Southampton Relay for Life was No. 1 money raiser nationally per capita in 2002 and 2008 for communities with a population of 25,000 to 29,999.

The HSUMC Relay for Life Team, which Worrell is on and is led by cancer survivor Judy Riddick, was the top fundraising team last year.

There are plenty of events to go around.

“It’s fun. We try to take part in a lot because there are so many fun things to do,” said Relay participant Glenda Jervy. “This is like a huge family for us. We’ve developed so many great relationships. You always come away with hearing someone’s story.”

Fundraising doesn’t stop with the Relay. On the day of the event, there will be plenty of ways to give.

Those who want to honor loved ones who have battled cancer can purchase a luminary which will be personalized and lit on the day of the race.

The Franklin-Southampton Relay for Life sends a personal note to the person who was honored, to let them know.

There are spots open for teams, too.

“We’re happy for anyone who wants to take the time,” Riddick-Fries said. “It’s not too late to start a team or to volunteer.”