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Inaugural Relay for Life shatters fundraising goal

| Thursday, June 5, 2014, 5:46 p.m.
Daniel Kubus I For the Tribune-Review
Cheri Cavanaugh, a two-year cancer survivor; Lynn Jobe, a 10-year survivor; and Denny Rosatti, a 40-year survivor, share a laugh during the Relay for Life Survivors Lap on Saturday, May 31, 2014 at Hempfield Area High School Stadium.
Cancer survivors walk around the track as part of the Relay for Life Survivors Lap on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Hempfield Area High School Stadium.
Denny Rosatti, a 40-year cancer survivor, delivers a speech as past of the Relay for Life Survivor Ceremony on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Hempfield Area High School Stadium.
Cancer survivors cut the ribbon to begin the Relay for Life Survivors Lap on Saturday, May 31, 2014, at Hempfield Area High School Stadium.
Austin Bachand | Tribune-Review
Those participating in Relay for Life sit in the stands of the Spartan Stadium at Hempfield High School during the opening ceremony of the event on Saturday, May 31, 2014. The theme of the event was “Aloha Relay, Goodbye Cancer,” and the money raised will go to help the American Cancer Society.

Participants in the first Greensburg Relay for Life — “Aloha Relay, Goodbye Cancer” — at Hempfield Area High School raised more than double their fundraising goal Saturday and Sunday.

The 24-hour walk, run, camp-out and festival brought in more than 1,000 participants on 46 teams — all of whom worked toward and exceeded the event's goal of raising $50,000 for the American Cancer Society. While participants raised money before the event by hosting spaghetti dinners, holding Tupperware parties, “flocking” people's yards with plastic flamingos and simply asking for donations, they also raised money at the event through games and Chinese auctions.

Volunteers said they originally set the fundraising goal low because it was the event's first year in the community. When they quickly exceeded the $50,000 goal, volunteers doubled the goal to $100,000, which participants surpassed the day before the event. In all, Greensburg's first Relay for Life raised $136,279.83 for the American Cancer Society.

“We were totally blown away by the support of the Greensburg community,” said event co-chairwoman Katie Ronald of Hempfield.

Ronald added that at the event alone, participants raised more than $36,000.

“When we raised over $36,000 the day of the event, I was just blown away because a lot of people didn't know Relay and didn't know what was supposed to happen,” she said. “When they got there, they got it. The light bulb went off.”

“Basically, the event came together without a hitch,” added Gina Campbell, a teacher at Maxwell Elementary School. “It couldn't have run more smoothly than it did.”

Campbell's family members played a huge role in the event — her family's team alone raised $17,700 for the American Cancer Society. Her brother, a survivor of Hodgkin's lymphoma, cut the ribbon to kick off the Survivor's Lap, while her father, a survivor of both Hodgkin's lymphoma and thyroid cancer, was the keynote speaker.

Campbell said she had a special view of the speech — she introduced her father to the crowd and then stood behind him, watching the audience's reactions as he spoke.

“Everybody was so touched by his story and journey,” she said. “He gave a lot of people hope.”

While participants will continue to raise money for this year's Relay for Life until Aug. 31, Ronald and Campbell have already began planning next year's event. Ronald said the volunteers plan to host it again at Hempfield Area High School with the theme “Giving Cancer the Boot.”

Alicia McElhaney is an intern for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-6220 or

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