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Resilient relay
Big fundraiser weathers early rain to near goal
Vickery Creek Middle School students, from left, Hannah Shumate, Caroline McBride and Kennedy Williams clap for cancer survivors as they walk during the Forsyth County Relay for Life. - photo by Autumn McBride

On the Net
To learn more about Relay for Life in Forsyth County or to donate to this year’s fundraising goal, visit

An American Cancer Society employee said Friday night’s Relay for Life event in Forsyth could not have gone any better.

Suzanne Hendricks said the event, which ran from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday, drew more than 1,300 participants and raised about $230,000 for cancer research.

“We had great support from the community, hundreds of [cancer] survivors to walk the opening victory lap, a very touching luninaria ceremony and fabulous entertainment,” said Hendricks, community manager for the organization. 

Last year’s relay was cut short by thunderstorms, Hendricks said. This year’s event also saw some wet weather early, but proceeded without any major interference.

“We did get some very heavy rain and wind Friday afternoon around 4:30, but we have very resilient relay-ers,” Hendricks said.

“They dried up their campsites, fixed their decorations and prepared to entertain the community as they began to arrive at 6 p.m.”

During the annual event, held at the Cumming Fairgrounds, participants walk overnight to symbolize a day in the life of someone battling cancer.

Relay teams set up booths to raise funds and provide a festival-type atmosphere for families in attendance.

One of the highlights is a ceremony in which luminaries are lit either in celebration of a survivor or in memory of someone who lost their battle to cancer.

“Cathy Helmuth, Felice Scholtes and Maggie Paoletti put together a very memorable and moving service,” Hendricks said. “We had several to share their story … all relay-ers held a candle and took a half lap around the track led by a bagpiper.”

Hendricks said another highlight of the event was the closing ceremony Saturday morning.

“To watch team captains and team members come to the stage for the ceremony … to see how many had committed to staying the full 12 hours, sacrificing an entire night’s sleep because they know that what they are doing is making a difference, was really incredible,” Hendricks said.

The relay may have passed, but fundraising efforts will continue for the next few months.

“We are going to continue to strive to reach [our goal of] $250,000,” Hendricks said.

She said the date for the 2012 Relay for Life event has been set for May 12-13.