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Cancer fundraiser relays past $50,000 goal
A-Relay for Life pic1
Riverview Middle Schools team clocks laps around the makeshift track at Relay for Life Saturday. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson County News

Some ran, others walked and many held hands with loved ones as they relayed around the makeshift track in front of the Dawsonville Municipal Complex Saturday.

They all have different stories, but they're all hunting for the same cure.

And now they are $50,000 closer to that goal.

Dawson County's annual Relay for Life festivities culminated after months and months of work by a very dedicated team of volunteers with a desire to show cancer survivors that we're all in this fight together.

"Obviously, seeing the survivors and caregivers take their victory lap and the luminaria ceremony were the most touching moments," said Brooke Van Buskirk with the American Cancer Society. "We have a survivor, Rhonda Stone, who walked a full 12 hours in honor of her journey and what others have been through."

With more than 5,200 events in 23 countries, Relay for Life is the largest fundraising movement to end cancer, while the American Cancer Society is considered the largest nonprofit fund provider for cancer research.

"Without Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society, we wouldn't have things like the [Prostate-Specific Antigen Blood Test and] lifesaving drugs like Herceptin and Glevac," Van Buskirk said. "We wouldn't be able to say that over 14 million people today are cancer survivors."

For organizing chairwoman Nicole Stewart, Relay for Life holds a special place in her heart.

"I relay for myself and my sister, Autumn. My mom is a cancer survivor of 29 years, but unfortunately we lost one of her sisters to breast cancer and one to skin cancer," she said. "I relay so Autumn and I don't have to fear losing a sister early to cancer."

For the second consecutive year, local volunteer teams have surpassed their fundraising goal.

"We went into Saturday with about $42,000. Teams brought and raised over $8,000 at the event, putting us over our $50,000 goal with more donations and fundraisers still in the works," VanBuskirk said.

Stewart said those totals prove how dedicated the community is to finding a cure for the disease that has touched everyone.

"I've have been so blessed over the last two years with the best committee and volunteers. We have worked so hard to regrow Relay for Life, and we want to make it a staple event that people want to attend each year," she said. "It was such an honor to be over this event and I am truly thankful to Dawson County for all the support."

Festivities Saturday ranged from team booths offering games, raffles and give-a-ways, to sweet treats, homemade desserts and hot off the grill delicacies like steak sandwiches and a new hit known as a Walking Taco.

"Seeing prominent faces from the community in the dunk tank was fun," Van Buskirk said. "Seeing the schools youth walking the track and participating in the stage activities like Lip Sync and Dance Off was very entertaining."