Local relay wins ACS awards


By Patricia Ann Speelman - pspeelman@aimmedianetwork.com



SIDNEY — The American Cancer Society (ACS) has presented Shelby County Relay for Life with several awards for achievements in 2016.

The local relay is an annual, over-night event on the Shelby County Fairgrounds, comprising contests, raffles, bake sales, and team booths selling food, drinks and souvenirs, all while cancer survivors, caregivers, families and friends take turns walking around a track to benefit society-funded research toward a cure for the disease.

The 2016 Shelby County event garnered the American Cancer Society Award and the All American Award and was commended for having the largest increase in participation by cancer survivors in the Ohio/Pennsylvania region and for ranking No. 10 in the nation for per capita fundraising in its population “bucket.”

The ACS Award was for exceeding the annual fundraising goal. Shelby County Event Co-leader Bob Schroerlucke, of Sidney, said the 2016 goal was $125,385 and it was exceeded by 21 percent. The amount raised was $151,468.

The All American Award was for improvement in each category that ACS tracks. According to Josh Moore, of Dayton, Relay for Life community manager, those categories include number of teams, number of participants, number of survivors participating, event activities, entertainment and feedback, in addition to amount of funds raised.

To make the award, ACS officials ask, “Does the event exemplify what Relay for Life is supposed to be?” Concerning the Shelby County event, Moore said, the answer was, “Yes.”

In terms of per capita fundraising, the local event is in the 40,000-49,999 population bucket. Donations equalled more than $3 per person.

Schroerlucke said a lot of planning, hard work and volunteer support was what resulted in the awards.

“I don’t think there’s a secret formula,” he said. “You have to start with a vision of what you want the event to be and what you want your team to look like.”

He and his wife, Annette, became co-leaders in 2014.

“We took a hard look at the organization and where it was. We had to focus on things that make people enjoy the event and make people want to get involved. At the same time, ACS had come out with a new organizational model that was better than the old one. We tried to use that as our guide to recruit good people on the leadership team. I think we succeeded (in 2016) because of the strength of the leadership team,” he said.

Moore, who oversees several relays throughout the Dayton area, pinpointed two things that made a big difference to last year’s Shelby County relay.

“From my perspective, we had a solid slate of entertainment and communication that was better than we’d done previously,” he said. “We planned it a lot earlier and communicated it better.” The men noted that efforts to engage volunteers and participants paid off.

“The fun quotient — the enjoyability factor of the event — and the volunteers’ feeling like they were making a difference was the key,” Schroerlucke said. Organizers had added two major activities to the 2016 relay: a 5K run and a Road to Recovery Race for which teams constructed cars from cardboard, decorated them and raced them around the track. In addition, there were many theme-based activities and games.

But it wasn’t just the August relay that had changes.

“We wanted to make monthly team meetings fun as well as informative. We got people excited about the relay and the mission,” Moore said.

Schroerlucke noted that they refocused attention by reminding everyone that what they were doing was raising money for ACS to find a cure for cancer.

“We couldn’t do it without community support,” he said. “We have to thank team leaders and team members. That Top 10 award — we couldn’t have got that without a lot of help. We’d be remiss not to thank the community and all our supporters for that help.”

While he’s proud of the recognition, he stressed that citations are not what’s really important.

“The awards are a benchmark, but you don’t do it for the awards. I want to help find a cure for cancer,” Schroerlucke said.

Moore added that every week, 52 weeks a year, five families in Shelby County hear the words, “You have cancer.” The relay events are about changing that.

A kick-off celebration of the 2017 Shelby County Relay for Life will be Feb. 16 at 6:30 p.m. in the Connection Point Church of God. It is open to the public. For information, call 492-2191.

By Patricia Ann Speelman

pspeelman@aimmedianetwork.com

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.