Tighter personal budgets may have shortened the giving for Relay for Life, but Saturday’s event was a rousing success, said Tonyehn Verkitus, Community Income Development Specialist for the Wayne Unit, American Cancer Society.


 Tighter personal budgets may have shortened the giving for Relay for Life, but Saturday’s event was a rousing success, said Tonyehn Verkitus, Community Income Development Specialist for the Wayne Unit, American Cancer Society.
They raised approximately $30,000 in pledges and donations, which will help cancer research go towards expenses of local services for cancer patients. This is about what they raise each year, though last year they took in $32,000.
Like other nonprofit organizations, the American Cancer Society is beginning to feel the pinch of a challenging economy, so noticeable at the gas pump. Verkitus commented that here and there they felt the shortfall, as they planned the Relay for Life event. Supplies for the concession stand, for example, which had been easier to have donated, had to be purchased. Some entertainers that might have volunteered to perform in the past, had to choose paying gigs, she noted.
The American Cancer Society set a goal of $45,000 for the Honesdale Relay for Life, based on last year’s tally, calculating that the Wayne Unit would be able to raise the difference. She said the goal is to raise that amount by the end of August, and contributions are appreciated.
Verkitus stressed, however, that in her view, Relay for Life is not all about raising money, as important as that is. More importantly, she said it was a great success in raising community awareness. She hopes in the future, more people will feel they can come out and participate in the carnival-like, family-oriented atmosphere. She stated they had a good turnout, and the weather was better than expected.
About 60 people attended the Survivor’s Banquet, enjoying a complimentary dinner thanks to Elegante’s.  She said she was encouraged in that a number of people looked forward to walking in the Relay next year, and wanted to be involved.
Meanwhile the Wayne Unit will be announcing an open house sometime in September, at their new location at 100-4th St., Honesdale, and the merger of the Wayne and Pike units. A satellite office will be maintained in Pike County, but the Pike Unit office in Milford is to close at the end of August. Verkitus said they will be able to keep their office open more, when staff or volunteers will no longer have to shuttle between offices.
At Saturday’s Relay for Life, cancer was not about to win. Instead, the joy of life itself was paraded, as families, friends and strangers united, marching the track. Some carried children piggyback or in strollers. Others threw a ball around or a flying disc. Hamburgers and hot-dogs were relished. Children played games.
This year for the first time, they featured a motorcycle stunt show,  haircuts and a yard sale, which were well received, and they hope to continue this next year. The event is held at the Wayne Highlands Athletic Complex and included 24 hours of walking around the track, in memory of cancer victims, in support and in celebration of surviving cancer. Lumanaria lined the track with candles in remembrance, and a fireworks display  shot into the sky, in a palette of brightly colored hope.
The Wayne Unit may be contacted at (570)383-4701. See www.cancer.org for more information about the American Cancer Society.