The Never-Ending Fight for Hope

relay thumbnailST. JOHNSBURY- For those who have been touched by cancer, they know too well that it is an every day battle. You don't get days off or chunks of the year off, which is why the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life events are not just a one day thing, they are more like a banquet of sorts, for once one relay season ends, another one immediately begins.

 When people have not been involved in Relay for Life before, they often think of it as a one day event. However, Erin Regan, the Community Development Manager in the Northeast Region for the American Cancer Society puts it simply. "It's a nice celebration for people who have been touched by cancer, whether it's people who have survived cancer, whether they were a caregiver for a family member or a friend. It's also a celebration of the fundraising efforts that people have made before the event."

Fundraising prior to the event is key, as the Caledonia County Relay for Life event is scheduled for June 16, 2018 and various teams throughout the area have already begun their fundraising efforts.

One team in particular is very passionate about year-long long fundraising and Regan says, "Year-long fundraising is not for everybody. However, one team in particular around here is year-round. They are so creative around what they want to do for fundraising because they are passionate about it and that's how they want to give back to the American Cancer Society."

Tammi Bailey began participating in Relay 12 years ago when a family member asked her to join their team. "One of my cousins asked me to join so I said sure, and we joined another family member's team. That was the year that it rained all night and it was so cold...but it didn't matter...at the end of that Relay we were ready to start our own family team."

Even though at the time, cancer hadn't yet hit her family, the Heath Hill-Billies Caledonia County Relay for Life Team was founded. "We started a team because we knew how important this fight is and we wanted to be a part of it."

Bailey says that the team starts planning fundraising for the next year, pretty much as soon as the previous event is over, and hold fundraising events sporadically throughout the year. The team puts on events such as yard sales, bottle drives, and dances from September until June that provide both fun and a sense of community.

To put it in perspective, Senior Manager for Community Development for the American Cancer Society, Hilary Casillas says, " Relay for life is truly about having a community to take on the fight against cancer. It really culminates in that day in June, where we get together and have the event, but all of the work in the community happens months ahead of time." That motto is one that the Heath Hill-Billies take to heart as Bailey says, "Early fundraising is important to us because we want to keep our team active in the community and our goal is to raise as much money as we can to help fight this battle."

Bailey takes a passion in all of the time that she dedicates to Relay, whether it be the planning and the fundraising or the actual event itself, she finds it all inspiring. "Relay For Life is the most amazing, important event that I will ever be a part of. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate, we remember and we fight back as a community that is united for one great cause. "

The Heath Hill-Billies raised over $12,000 for the 2017 Relay for Life, and hope to raise even more this year.

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