The number of teams walking and running in the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life dropped significantly this year, as 34 teams took part instead of the 60 hoped for.
The 16th annual St. Croix Relay for Life was held Saturday and Sunday at D.C. Canegata Ball Park. Last year 50 teams took part in the event, which was held at St. Croix Educational Complex. The American Cancer Society had set of goal of 60 teams this year.
Tina Beazer, St. Croix ACS community and special events manger, said a couple of things may have come into play to lower the participation rate. She surmised the change of venue may have discouraged people from the west side of the island to make the drive east. She also said a sorority debutante ball was held at the same time, and the sororities normally field teams for the ACS fundraising event.
Beazer remained enthusiastic in expressing gratitude for the sponsors of the event who support the ACS with donations and team support.
This year’s Signature Sponsor was Limetree Bay, which donated $20,000, Beazer said. The V.I. Water and Power Authority and Hotel Caravelle and Casino were also major sponsors.
Tarah Graham Hodge, a Limetree Bay representative, said at the end with everything raised additionally by Limetree teams they could see $25,000 support from management, employees, their friends and families.
Teams from the St. Croix Legislature, Delegate Stacy Plaskett, Frederikstsed Health Clinic, Department of Health, Banco Popular and Viya (formerly Innovative and Choice) also took part, along with private and individual groups, such as Team Super Heroes, Team Sun Shine, a group of business people and their colleagues, and the Machuchal neighborhood teams.
The relay started Saturday with a survivors dinner for 200 people provided by the University of the Virgin Islands Cafeteria, followed by a survivors walk and the lighting of luminaries. The luminaries are purchased for $5 or $10 to honor and remember those with cancer. The popular local band Stylee provided entertainment for the night.
During the relay, themed laps were held to liven things up and add fun. There was a Tutu Lap and the Pink Bra lap, in which even men donned the feminine attire and walked around the field. A trophy will be awarded to the best decorated team tent chosen by popular vote.
Registration was $10 per person and each person had to raise at least $100. Teams are made up of 15 people.
Jay Gleason and Rollin Allahar, Limetree Bay employees walking around the field, said they were out giving their support because they know people affected by cancer.
“The money stays local, which is key to giving support in our community,” Gleason said.
Beazer said people on St. Croix like the fact that all the money stays here supporting their own, so they contribute.
“We are unique that it stays here,” Beazer said. “The organization made an agreement that the funding stays here because of the insurance situation on St. Croix. We assist individuals.”
Beazer said a high percentage of the population has no health insurance. The local ACS helps with medicine, prosthetics and transportation on and off island, among other things.
Beazer said she would like to see more people get involved and form teams. She also said the event receives lots of help from volunteers, including students, which the organization deeply appreciates.
Beazer said they don’t have any idea how much ACS made because donations will continue to come in through the end of June.
“Cancer is so prevalent here and people truly want to get involved,” Beazer added. “They just need to take the initiative. We need the community as much as the community needs us.”