Non-profit has the best year to date.
The American Cancer Society’s 2008 SCV Relay For Life has topped the $500,000 mark for the first time, capping a two-day event that broke records in a number of areas. The 24-hour walking event was held May 31 to June 1 at Central Park, but teams have continued to turn in late donations, pushing the event past the half million dollar mark this week.
The SCV Relay For Life is the No. 1 such event in Los Angeles County, No. 5 in the state and No. 8 in the nation.
This year’s Relay started with a record 109 teams, the first time the event has topped the 100-team mark. According to the team list at www.scvrelay.org  , there were 38 new teams this year, another record.
Dozens of team captains have been attending monthly meetings with Team Captain Coordinator Brandi Newquist since the beginning of the year, gathering tips on building enthusiasm among team members, recruiting walkers and raising the team’s fund-raising efforts
“When you attend a meeting led by Brandi Newquist, you cannot help but sign up!” exclaimed event co-chair Candy Spahr. This year’s other co-chairs were Teresa Kerr, who handled the creative aspects of Relay, and John Fortman, in charge of logistics.
Kerr organized the event’s Web site, which has had more than 17,500 hits this year, compared to 7,500 last year when the site was first created. The Web site offers a calendar of Relay-related events, schedules of Relay activities, and a way for teams to register online, track their donation totals and receive donations from online supporters.
Relay participants purchased more than 3500 luminaria, candle-lit bags which lined the track during the evening Luminaria Ceremony. Each one offered a tribute to a victim, survivor, or supporter of a cancer victim. Spahr estimated that more than 5,000 walkers participated in the Luminaria Ceremony, with walkers lined up halfway down the track in two directions from the stage. “That shows the amazing support of the community for this event,” Spahr reflected.
Food sales at the event also were the highest ever, contributing more than $8,000 in additional income to the Relay bottom line.
More than 400 cancer survivors opened this year’s Relay with a Survivor Lap, wearing purple survivor T-shirts and circling the track to the cheers of onlookers. And the record crowds continued throughout the day.
“Many people have commented that even during the wee hours of the night there was more activity than ever,” Kerr said. Event planners created pajama contests, free pizza and formal dress contests to keep walkers enthusiastic during night. Relay For Life teams promise to keep at least one walker on the track for all 24 hours, “because cancer never sleeps.”
“And let’s not forget to give credit to Mother Nature, who provided us with perfect weather,” Kerr added. Temperatures were in the 80s throughout the day, with a breeze to cool off walkers during the hottest part of the day. Teams took advantage of the warmth, offering drinks and cooling neck wraps for sale and contributing the proceeds to Relay for the American Cancer Society.
The SCV Relay also set a record for participants who signed up for the American Cancer Society’s CPS-3 cancer prevention study. The site used all of the 400 kits provided for the local study, making it the third largest site to date in the nation, and a number of potential participants had to be turned away when the demand exceeded the expected turnout.
Even now that the local Relay has broken the $500,000 mark, funds continue to come in. “For the first time, we will continue to have fundraisers after the event, as our teams extend their dedication to Relay to the entire year,” Kerr concluded.
The local committee is already seeking new members for the 2009 Relay, and encouraging team captains to be among the first to register a team for next year’s event. Volunteers and captains can sign up by sending a message to email@example.com .
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is the nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS works toward that goal by preventing cancer, saving lives from cancer, and diminishing suffering from cancer by supporting research, education, advocacy and service.
Cancer information is available 24 hours a day at www.cancer.org  or by calling (800) ACS-2345. Santa Clarita Valley Relay For Life information is available by calling 298-0886, option 3, or contacting staff member Danielle Anziano at Danielle.Anziano@cancer.org . Volunteers interested in joining next year’s Relay committee can respond to firstname.lastname@example.org . More information is available at www.scvrelay.org .