The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

June 8, 2014

Relay For Life reaches $1 million milestone

JEFFERSON — In its 16th year, the Ashtabula County Relay For Life, reached a milestone this year by hitting the $1 million mark for funds raised over the years.

The event got under way at noon Saturday at the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds and concludes at 8 a.m. today. It is a 20-hour event to raise funds and awareness for cancer as well as to celebrate the survivors of this disease.

Several survivors served as the opening speakers for the event Saturday and the relay officially began with the traditional survivor’s lap, followed by a lap by all the participating teams.

This year plays host to 46 registered teams, said Chris Rainsberg, one of the event coordinators.

Rainsberg said the event is truly all about the survivors and remembering those who have passed.

“It’s also about the community coming together and feeling like they are doing something to eradicate this disease,” she said.

The very first Relay For Life in Ashtabula County was a walk held at Smith Field, she said.

The event quickly began to grow and moved to Kent State University’s Ashtabula Campus for several years before being relocated to Grand River Academy, she said.

Each year the event continued to grow and coordinators knew they had to find a new, larger and centrally located location. Eventually, the event was moved to the Ashtabula County Fairgrounds, where it has been held every year since.

Rainsberg said the move to the fairgrounds has been huge for the event, which more than doubled its proceeds the first year it moved.

In the second year at the fairgrounds, the event netted more than $100,000, she said.

This year’s goal is to raise $157,000, which benefits the American Cancer Society for cancer research and treatment programs. Rainsberg said they should come very close to meeting that goal.

A host of activities took place throughout the night. One person from each team was present on the track at all times.

At 9:30 p.m., the luminaria ceremony was held to honor the survivors, remember those that have lost the battle and support those who are being treated. All activities are stopped during the luminaria ceremony which is a very emotional event.

Luminarias line the track and illuminate it while participants make a silent lap around the track.

Activities throughout the night include a skipping lap, a red light, green light lap, a rooster crowing contest at 5 a.m., a birthday lap, and a cornhole tournament as well as a number of local entertainers.

Rainsberg said the activities are planned to keep the track active at all times.

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