By jordyn grzelewski
The Relay for Life of Poland, which took place Friday and Saturday at the high school, generated more than $52,000 for the American Cancer Society — all of which will be put toward cancer research and services for cancer patients.
“Our goal for this year’s relay was to embrace the emotion, memories and feelings of closeness that this event is meant to ignite. I feel that we have surpassed that this year,” said Stefanie Sobinovsky, the event chairwoman of the committee that organized the relay.
“This year, we were a family: We laughed together; we cried together; in the middle of the night, we yawned together; and we showed cancer that we aren’t backing down. We are here to fight until the word cancer is never spoken again.”
The $52,000 raised by the participating teams fell short of the organizing committee’s goal of $65,000, which is about what the Poland event has raised each year since it started in 2008. According to Sobinovsky, they expect to reach their goal in the next few weeks when a few other fundraisers wrap up.
“Relay for Life participants turn awareness into action by raising nearly $400 million for the American Cancer Society each year across the country,” said Alexandra Houser Vukoder, a spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society, in an email. “In Mahoning County, five Relay for Life events raised more than $372,000 to date.”
Sobinovsky said the highest fundraising team this year was Gianna’s Dream, with more than $17,000.
According to Vukoder, 65 cancer survivors and nearly 400 participants were present at the Poland relay, which took place over a 24-hour period and featured events such as a survivor dinner, a luminaria-lighting ceremony, a cornhole tournament, live music, contests, fitness workshops and more.
“The money from Relay is helping us find cancer’s causes and cures, through groundbreaking research,” Vukoder said. “It’s also helping us do the most to help people who have cancer today, through our trained cancer information specialists as well as our patient programs and services, such as transportation and support programs.”
Vukoder said anyone interested in becoming involved with Relay for Life in other counties or for Mahoning County’s next relay season should visit relayforlife.org, where they can enter their ZIP code to learn more about events in their community.