The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame will host the 2015 Dawson County Relay for Life Community Manger Brooke Van Buskirk confirmed. This year's event is focused on the roots of Dawson County, having been dubbed "Racing to the Cure" and will be held Saturday, April 25 from 11 am-11 pm.
This is the 20th year that Dawson County has held an event with 2011 raising a record-breaking $95,000.
"We had a big decline after the economy shifted," Van Buskirk said. All money raised at the event goesto fund cancer research and this year's leadership team has set a goal of $40,000.
Seventeen teams will work together to achieve the financial goal, including A-Team under the direction of Rachel Burton, newly appointed Director of Planning and Development for Dawson County. Her team consists of Rachel and Jeff Burton, David and Jill McKee, Cindy Campbell, Davida Simpson, Dena Bosten, Diane Callahan, Ken Moss, Kim Smith, Kristi Hudson, Laurie Whalen, Margaret Honn, Natalie Johnson, Rachel Seal and Tiffany Young. "The A Team was formed since the majority of the team works for Dawson County Administration, hence the 'A', Burton explained.
Burton's connection with Relay is personal. "I am a cancer survivor (malignant melanoma) and have been involved with Relay for Life since 2000, however this is my forth year participating with Dawson County Relay for Life."
One way the A-Team hopes to raise money is through a raffle of various items including CMMG AR15 Heavy Stainless Varmint/Target Rifle, Pelican Cooler, Kate Spade purse, diamond ring, Brinkman Gas Grill, Redken Gift Basket, Meaders Clay Jug, Origami Owl Gift Certificate, Chase Elliott Memorabilia and Moes Southwest Grill gift cards.
Tickets may be purchased from any team members will be sold tickets at Relay until the raffle drawing begins. Winners need not be present Burton shared.
As of Wednesday, Team Dawson County Parks and Recreation, lead by Kris Rowan, was leading the cause with $2,655. This is Rowan's third year but the humble captain is quick to point out "we all work as a team, we all take the lead when needed."
"All of our money is raised as a team. It consists of park staff and friends of the park," explained Rowan. Those individuals include Buffie Hamil, Ronda Watson, Lisa Henson, Joey Carder, Tom Whalen, Greg Lawrence, Jerry North, Billy Mahaffey, Dele Mahaffey, Calli Watson, Diane Goswick, David Goswick and Rowan.
Team Dawson County Parks and Recreation hosted Battle of the Best basketball all-star tournament and most recently, a pageant in which Caitlin Elizabeth Banks was crowned Miss Relay for Life. Other winners included Blakely Tamasi (Miss Baby Relay for Life), Abigail Walden (Tiny Miss Relay for Life), Andi Cioffi (Teeny Miss Relay for Life), Lacie Hendrix (Petite Miss Relay for Life), Abigail Samples (Sweetheart Miss Relay for Life), Lark Reece (Junior Miss Relay for Life), Laney Taylor (Teen Miss Relay for Life) and Millie Dyer (Ambassador).
"The thing to remember is that no matter the amount a small donation or a large donation it all adds up. Every penny counts," Rowan said.
Rowan's involvement, like Burton's is personal. "I got involved after my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia," Rowan explained. "She fought a very tough battle but we lost her in September of 2006. She was my mom, best friend and the best person I have ever known."
Van Buskirk points out that despite the theme, the 2015 event isn't an actual race but rather a festival type atmosphere. There will be a car show in the morning and Relay events through out the day.