This is a continuing weekly series that highlights members of the Anadarko Chamber of Commerce. You can see last week’s member story by clicking here.
This interview was conducted with Cheryl Smith and April Granger who organize Relay for Life – Caddo County.
Cheryl Smith and April Granger help organize Relay for Life in Caddo County
When did Relay for Life start in Caddo County/how long have you been with the organization?
Relay for Life started here in 1999 and has raised $384,738 since the beginning. Although Hinton had a separate event from 2003-2010 and raised $178,273 during those 7 years. So our county wide total for both event is actually $563,011. The highest amount raised in Anadarko for one event was $30,355 in 2006. Hinton’s highest amount was $29,537 in 2010. Cheryl Smith works for the American Cancer Society and she has been with the organization for 10 years.
In your words describe your organization:
It is a community event bringing together individuals, families and businesses to raise awareness to people for the American Cancer Society’s education, programs, services, and research.
Any updates at your organization or what’s new?
We want to educate the public on where the money raised goes. We want survivors and caregivers to know the services and programs that help people locally in Caddo County. As long as they come to us we can help them, whether that means helping them get a wig or a ride to the hospital. Everyone receives the same services and the same opportunities. Last year our organization raised $3.8 million statewide. We have a big focus on research and $2.3 million of the money raised went to OU’s Health Science Center for research. Our supporters have told us that they really appreciate the money that goes to research because it will have the biggest impact to help everyone.
Why did you choose Anadarko to locate your organization?
It’s a county wide relay and this is the county seat. The reason why it got started in Caddo County because a group of people decided they wanted to make a difference.
What is your biggest challenge?
Participation from the community and getting people involved. Participation from the county as a whole to bring all of the smaller communities together to the county seat.
What is the most rewarding part about organizing this event?
Helping a cancer survivor through their journey and being able to see them another year. Helping them get to remission. Bringing more awareness and throughout the years seeing the different groups get involved such as youth involvement. Hearing the success stories of people we helped through their journey.
If you had a magic wand to improve something in your organization or in the City of Anadarko what would it be?
Education of the public of what the American Cancer Society can do for survivors/caregivers and educate about the risks that are out there that can lead to cancer such as smoking and tanning. We also want to promote eating healthy and active lifestyles.
Describe your organization’s best day?
Every year during the Relay event survivors take an opening lap and celebrate another year of fighting cancer. It is a reunion celebrating life.
Why is it important for you to be a Chamber member?
So we can help educate the Chamber members and everyone about how the money benefits the county. We appreciate that the Chamber can help spread the word. Most likely people won’t know ACS staff, but they know the local stories of people being involved with relay.
Anything you would like to share with our audience?
Relay for Life will be on June 3rd, 2016 at the Anadarko High School Track starting at 7:00 p.m. You may go to www.cancer.org to find out more about programs services clinical trials or call 1-800-ACS-2345.