TWINSBURG -- With the 2013 American Cancer Society's Relay For Life five months away, organizers of the major fundraiser are occupied all the same with team organization, activity planning and more.
The 2013 Relay For Life for Nordonia/Twinsburg is set for June 7-8 at the Twinsburg Tiger Stadium. Informational meetings for interested volunteers will be conducted in coming weeks at the Twinsburg Public Library, the first of which is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Jan. 17.
Relay co-chairperson Jennie Dawes said the local chapter will attempt to reach a donation goal of $52,000, compared to the roughly $50,000 raised in 2012.
"Our goal this year is only $52,000, but we think we can go well beyond that," Dawes said. "We know our communities are more generous."
"There's just been a lot of strain on people, between the economy and people supporting the school levy. But Relay is something that is easy to [support]. Everyone can do something and every little bit counts."
During the annual Relay, teams attempt to keep at least one person either walking or running on the track throughout the overnight event, doing so in memory of a survivor or for someone who has lost their battle with cancer.
Around 23 teams were formed for the 2012 Relay, a number Dawes hopes to top in 2013. The goal is to have at least 30 teams register, Dawes said.
"We're just going to get as many as we can," Dawes said. "If we can get 40 or 50, that would be awesome."
Roughly six teams have registered so far, pledging around $2,500. Co-chair Beth Noga said there is still time to build a larger donation base before the Relay and collect contributions after.
"We haven't seen much yet, it's still kind of early," Noga said. "Teams are really just starting to form right now, even though it's a year-round adventure for most of us. The teams tend to get started after the first of the year and they raise money through the end of August."
The Relay is still in the planning stages, but entertainment and activities for participants are being arranged, including a DJ and live music from area blues rock group the Deja Voodoo Band. Overnight activities are still in the works, as most are planned by the volunteers, but Dawes said past favorites such as the poker run are likely to return. And there will also be the more somber ceremony of the lighting of the luminaries, which honors deceased victims of cancer and their surviving loved ones.
"We usually have a DJ," Noga said. "We don't have anything set in stone, that's still in the planning [stages]. Friday night, I know we have two bands for sure. One of them is the Deja Voodoo band -- this will be their third year there. They are a huge supporter of us, donating their time on a Friday night when they could get a really good paid gig to help support Relay For Life. The event is dear to them."
A new addition to the Relay For Life of Twinsburg and Nordonia is the 2013 Bark For Life dog relay, a spin-off event intended for relay volunteers who want to involve their pets in the fundraising event. Dawes said that since dogs are not permitted at the Twinsburg Tiger Stadium, volunteers and organizers are currently deciding on an alternate place and time for the Bark For Life relay.
New volunteers will receive resources and information from the American Cancer Society on how to best organize donation strategies and team structure. Teams can register online at www.relayforlife/twinsburg or by calling 330-405-2530.
"We want to make this as easy and as fun as possible," Dawes said. "There are tons of great resources that the American Cancer Society provides that we haven't maximized, so we're going to be using all kinds of really great tools to make sure we're hitting all the areas we could be hitting."
Though the 2013 Relay For Life takes place in Twinsburg, the event is also intended for the Nordonia Hills area, which Noga hopes to involve more heavily than in previous years.
"We're really trying to get more of the Nordonia people involved," Noga said. "Some of our best fundraisers are from that area, but since the event takes place in Twinsburg, it's sometimes hard to get their attention."