Rockford Relay for life 2011 ‘profoundly moving’

Rockford fire fighters lead the first lap of Relay for Life each year along with an escort of Young Marines Color Guard.

The weather was wonderful for Rockford’s ninth annual Relay for Life American Cancer Society event. Beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday, May 20 with a first lap by Rockford fire fighters and the Young Marines Color Guard, the 24-hour event wrapped up another amazing year of fundraising with the goal of curing and preventing cancer.

Team Family Ties had a birthday cake to match this year’s theme of celebrating more birthdays. They were getting ready to sell candles for one dollar which people bought in honor of an individual of their choice. Pictured are Kristin Kemppainen, Shauna Bayer and Kelly Nielson.

According to organizer Carol Delp-Korzeja, this year’s Relay raised more than $340,000 and had over 300 cancer survivors.   She said that dollar amount is about $2,000 more than at the event close last year and teams were still turning in money after the cut off time at 2:00 p.m. Saturday. The event does not officially close until August 1.

The top money raising  teams were Terminatin’ Cancer at $23,701, Desperate Housewives had just $601 less than Terminatin’ Cancer. Desperate Housewives earned twice what they earned last year, so they were awarded a Momentum award. The Wolverine World Wide team was third with a total of $17,099

The top individual money earner was Cathy Winterhalter from Pigeon and Clay with $3,471. Ed Beck of Independent Bank was a close second at $2,500 and the Desperate Housewives team was top for online donations at $10,520.

The top student money earner: Carson Banfield with an amazing $1,075 and the top school earner was Easty Rockford Middle School.

“Rockford Schools earned over $40 thousand dollars for Rockford Relay this year! We could not be nearly as successful at Relay without the ongoing support from the Rockford Publ;ic Schools.  They donate the building, the track, the premises, the parking lot, the bathrooms and showers, ect.  You name it, RPS offers it,” said Korzeja.

“We also couldn’t be nearly as successful without the help from the city of Rockford.  From garbage and handwash stations, to signage and  police/ fire support, we couldn’t do it without the city.”

Kozeja also said there were many had positive comments regarding the request for complete silence at 9:30 p.m. for the luminaria lap.  “In the past, we have had ceremonies of instrumental music, reading of poems, compassionate performances from singers and moving words from survivors and caretakers. This year, we decided to try simple silence.  It was profoundly moving. We thank all those who stopped their conversations, turned off their generators, carried the glow sticks we provided and simply showed the respect of silence to those who were named on the thousands of luminarias that lined the track. That was my most favorite memory of Relay 2011.”




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