Friday night couldn’t have turned out much better for Petal Relay For Life.
The organization, which is a fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society, saw several hundred participants at its Relay Night event at Hinton Park, helping to raise more than $20,000 for the ACS.
“I think it was very successful,” said Leesa Mitchell, community development manager for the ACS South Region. “Relay Night is a vital part of the fundraising effort of Relay For Life in every county.
“It’s a night where teams come together and they end the season with celebration and fundraising. Relay Night is also a time that we spend together as a community honoring our survivors and our caregivers.”
The funds raised at Relay Night are a part of the approximately $60,000 raised throughout the year, which will go toward cancer research and support at the ACS.
Relay Night began with a cancer survivors’ reception featuring food and entertainment, followed by a celebration lap around Hinton Park’s walking track.
After dark, officials held the Luminaria Ceremony, in which hundreds of luminaria – votive candles in small paper bags – were lit around the track. The candles were left burning throughout the night to honor cancer survivors, remember those lost to the disease and to remind participants of the magnitude of the disease and the importance of their contributions.
Members of each of the 20 teams who worked throughout the last year to raise funds for Petal Relay For live set up tents for the night around the track.
And Relay Night wasn’t the only good news to come out of last week, as Petal Relay For Life’s Cupcake Challenge raised more than $3,500. During the challenge, businesses and schools competed to raise money by selling scannable paper cupcakes provided by the ACS.
“This was a great little fundraiser,” Mitchell said. “They were selling those cupcakes for 50 cents a piece – you have to sell a lot of paper cupcakes to raise over two thousand dollars.
“And I think the kids had fun.”
Petal Elementary School was the winner of the Cupcake Challenge, as students there raised more than $2,000 during the contest. In honor of their win, students were treated Friday afternoon to a cupcake party in the school’s gymnasium, with special guest Miss USM Macy Mitchell.
The elementary school’s fundraising efforts were headed up by teacher Hope Lee, whose involvement with the ACS started in 2005 when she was an assistant teacher at W.L. Smith Elementary. Through Petal Elementary’s annual school carnival, its partnership with Kona Ice and the Purple Cupcake Challenge, the school was able to raise almost $10,000 throughout the year for the ACS.
“I was blown away by my first Relay (Night) while watching the survivors’ walk,” she said. “Our community truly comes together for such a good cause.
“My dear brother and godmother both lost their lives to cancer, and it was fuel to my fire to help our community and Petal Elementary raise money for the American Cancer Society.”