With a new manager in place, the Relay for Life of Greater Charlotte is making more of an effort to build the brand and drum up support before its May finale, volunteers and staff with the organization say.
Felisha Fletcher, who became the new community manager for the Relay for Life of Greater Charlotte in September, said building more awareness is a primary missions.
The Relay for Life of Greater Charlotte includes relays for Ballantyne, west Charlotte, Charlotte and Matthews-Mint Hill.
“I was basically given the responsibility for understanding the growth potential here in Charlotte,” she said. “These locations had great potential.”
Held annually, the event raises money for, and awareness of, the American Cancer Society’s fight against cancer.
The cause also is personal for Fletcher. Her father died of lung cancer in 2005, roughly nine months after she found out he had it.
“My dad is my superhero. He makes everything happen,” she said. “Having that strong individual deteriorate in front of my eyes changed my views and understanding of life.”
This year is particularly poignant for Fletcher, because this is the 10th anniversary of her father’s death. It also is the 30th anniversary of Relay for Life.
Fletcher said that when she was talking to community members, she kept hearing the same thing: The community is not involved enough, and there aren’t as many cancer survivors participating as they wanted.
Ashton Grove resident Patti Kelly is a cancer survivor who will participate this year. She participated for the first time last year, just more than a month after being diagnosed with breast cancer and two weeks after her last surgery to remove the cancer.
“To know that there were all these people around – some of them who hadn’t had cancer themselves or didn’t know anyone personally at all – to know they were all there trying to stamp out cancer, to see that visually and to hear the stories was amazing,” Kelly said.
This year, Kelly said, she wants to help get more people involved.
“One of the big pushes is to get more publicity out there,” she said. “There are growing pains with getting people involved and making people aware. But you don’t know what you don’t know.”
Relay for Life in Ballantyne has announced several events ahead of its May 29 finale, including Cupcakes for the Cure on March 27-29 at SAS Cupcakes in Blakeney.
Fletcher said she’s also stressed getting key agencies involved, including the City Council, local police departments, the Fire Department and others. The group in Ballantyne also has made an effort to engage more businesses this year, including partners like Extended Stay America.
As of March 5, the Ballantyne Relay for Life had raised $6,750.93, with 22 teams and 85 participants. Fletcher invited residents to attend the Ballantyne Relay for Life finale on May 29 at the Morrison Family YMCA.
She said concerts, activities and more already are planned for the event, which is luau-themed.
The finale also will feature Relay’s signature survivor lap, in which cancer survivors lead the walk.
The event will also include the lighting of luminarias to honor people’s fight against cancer.
“It’s like a big community festival,” she said. “It’s a celebration of life.”
Arriero: 704-358-5945; On Twitter: @earriero
Want to go?
To learn about upcoming fundraising events for the Ballantyne Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/ballantynenc.
The Survivor Dinner will be 6:30 p.m. May 28 at South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church, 8601 Bryant Farms Road. For reservations: Katherine_hudspeth@hotmail.com.
The Ballantyne Relay for Life will be 6 p.m. May 29 to 6 a.m. May 30 at the Morrison Family YMCA at 9405 Bryant Farms Road. Register free at the website.