BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Relay for Life had a big secret it was able to reveal Tuesday evening during a special event downtown.
In 20 years of Relaying in Upshur County, the community has raised $2 million in the fight against cancer.
Crystal Shaw, who helped found Upshur County Relay for Life in 1998, recalled that the first year raised $29,108.
“We had 30 survivors that night,” she said. “From there we grew over the next four years to $100,000 in year five.”
In years six and seven, Relay for Life had grown to include 52 teams.
“In year nine, we had 140 survivors who walked the opening lap,” she said. “Year nine was also our biggest year for fundraising. We raised $171,041 that year for Upshur County.”
“Year 11 we had 552 participants signed up online, and that year we reached $1 million raised in Upshur County,” Shaw said. “We have gone on every year to raise close to $100,000 in Upshur County.”
Then came last year, the 19th year for Relay for Life.
“We were at $1,978,291,” she said. “I was watching that and watching that and I said to a few people we are getting close to $2 million.”
At the April team meeting, teams brought in just over $22,000 in fundraising to put the total at $2,001,001.15.
“For a community the size of Upshur County, we have raised $2 million in 20 years,” Shaw said. “I think that is something we can be very proud of and I hope the community is very proud of efforts of the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life teams and committee members have put in every year. We hope that will continue every year. We are proud of all of you and the community for supporting these fundraising events.”
Laura Meadows, executive director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said she was impressed to hear Relay hit the $2 million mark.
“I think that just goes to show how special Buckhannon and Upshur County is and how we all pull together to work towards a goal. It’s a true reflection for our community. I’m really proud to be a part of this community and I’m proud of Relay for Life. We are happy to support this organization and keep moving forward.”
Megan Pitrolo, community manager for American Cancer Society, said, “It’s amazing to see how far you guys have come in 20 years. To be able to celebrate and to see all the support just goes to show how well Upshur County is supporting Relay for Life.”
The money raised by Relays for Life goes to the American Cancer Society to fund research and cancer patient support programs.
Linda Wolfe, event lead for the second year, invited the community to Relay for Life on July 15 at Jawbone Park from 6 p.m. to midnight.
“We would love to have you down as we honor those who have cancer and remember those who have gone on,” she said.