Relay for Life award winners
Most Miles Walked: Rhonda Stone
Rookie Team: A-Team
Best Cardboard Box Car: State Farm/Lanier Tech
Most Spirited: Kilough Elementary School
Best Camp Site: The Rotary Club of Dawson County
Best Activity: Positively Aggressive
Best Food/Silver Spoon: Silver City Church-God's Pit Crew
A new venue and shorter event schedule proved a positive move for Relay for Life in Dawson County.
Held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, volunteers raised nearly $40,000 locally in support of cancer research, patient programs, services and education efforts.
"We had more teams, sponsors and participation from the whole community this year," said Brooke VanBuskirk with the American Cancer Society. "The event leadership team worked so hard this year to help bring Relay back to Dawsonville's grassroots by having it at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame."
With a "racing toward a cure" theme, a record 205 participants from two dozen teams revved past the group's $30,000 goal by more than $7,000. And funds are still expected to be driven in over the next few weeks.
"We did have to move the car show due to the weather," said Lead Event Coordinator Nicole Stewart.
The car show will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 16 at the hall of fame.
This year Gordon Pirkle, historian and curator at the racing hall of fame's museum, and Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan were selected by the leadership team as the event's honorary chairmen.
"They supported us in having our relay at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame and helped it be successful," VanBuskirk said. "Even with the threat and warning of terrible weather that never came, they both bent over backwards to accommodate us inside the building."
Festivities 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.
In addition to the decorating booths, volunteers also showcased their winning spirit with team themed cardboard box racecars.
While the team of Roger Slaton's State Farm and Lanier Technical College won for best car, the Dawson County Government's A-Team won the cardboard car race.
Activities planned also included a ceremony that celebrated the lives of those who have battled cancer and the annual survivors lap to celebrate their personal victories against the disease.
Kris Rowan, who is part of the event leadership team, "relays" in memory of her mom Patsy Reece and many others that are fighting the battle or have succumbed to "this dreaded disease."
"I believe that everyone I know has been personally affected by cancer within their family," she said. "The cure is out there. We just need to work together to help find it. All donations no matter how small will add up and help with the fight."
Karen Armstrong lost both of her parents to cancer.
"You cannot understand what he or she has experienced unless you have gone to a weekly treatment and watched your mother sit for two hours plus taking a cancer treatment through a port, driving her home drugged up and weak, then caring for her over a course of a few days and watching her experience extreme pain," she said. "It is indescribable. I participated this past Saturday because I want a cure-to stop the suffering so that others, my daughter, and future generations of children will not have to experience this deadly disease."