Relay For Life participants gathered to share cake, laugh, remember, shed a tear and applaud the winners of top campsite, most spirited, top individual fundraiser and top team, as well as, thank sponsors for their contributions at the Relay for Life Awards Ceremony at the Percy Bakker Center in Hesperia.
The efforts of 32 teams working for countless hours over several months, as well as, the 24-hour relay event, brought in $53,810 in proceeds for the American Cancer Society.
All the participants do so on a volunteer basis according to Senior Relay Manager Danielle Polliard. Event Chair Jessica Butler said the planning starts in August and ends the following August, but fundraising ideas are constantly on her mind.
"It's extremely time consuming — I love it," Butler said.
Survivor Chair and Team Captain of Super Heroes for Survivors Tracy Moyer said the Captain America shields her team made held by 125 of the over 160 registered survivors was a sight to see.
"All the work you put into it," Moyer said, "paid off in that moment."
"The money you're raising is doing what it's supposed to be doing — every dollar saves lives," Polliard said, in a closing speech at the May 20 ceremony, of the 136 caregivers and 162 survivors who were registered at the event.
"I don't know how it happened — it was a runaway money train," Team Captain of Educators for a Cure, Linda Canfield said of the $11,000 her team raised — putting them in first place as the top team fundraiser. She said at the beginning of the 24-hour relay event they had raised $7,000.
But it's not the money that fuels the enthusiasm of these individuals.
"It's always fun for all these efforts to be recognized — it's all for the cause," said Julie Renfrow, team captain of Pole Position for a Cure. Her team placed second in the top team fundraiser category, exceeding their $10,000 goal by $5, she said.
One of the top individual fundraisers, Roxanne Olsen said she doesn't do it for the credit.
"I care about the cause," Olsen said. "It means so much to me to help another human being."
For some teams, this year was their first relay.
"Exciting, challenging, exhausting," said Team Captain Sentha Bender of Team Jazzercise The Mad Hatters. "I would recommend anyone to do it."
Connie Schulz said her team, HUMC: A Whole New World Without Cancer Team Captain, had one goal and beat it — and then they beat a second goal.
"(We're) so thrilled, our very first year, exciting, trying to put our best food forward to raise money," Schulz said.
Team Katy Katz placed third in the most spirited teams category.
"I feel happy we got a lot of people," Keilana Gardner, 11, said. "I'm happy to fight cancer with others."