Relay for Life to change venues

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2010

NATCHEZ — Cancer survivors and supporters who have annually raised money for Miss-Lou Relay for Life along the Vidalia Riverfront will see a change in 2011, when the event is moved to the new Vidalia Recreational Center.

Due to security issues this year resulting in the shooting of a 17-year-old man near the charity event, Relay for Life Chair Bridgid Martin said the location needed a change of venue to be safe.

At a wrap-up meeting Friday, American Cancer Society representative Kathy Prospere said Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland offered to host the event at the recreational facility, whose construction plans are underway.

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“We’ll miss the river of course, but it’s all about being safe for our teams,” Prospere said.

Prospere said the facility would not yet be complete in time for the relay next spring, but it will provide lights, water and peace of mind.

In addition, Copeland suggested Relay for Life hire additional security.

Despite the violent disruption at the event in May, donations poured in.

The relay has raked in approximately $210,000 so far this year.

On the night of the relay alone, corporate sponsors and individuals donated almost $50,000.

Prospere said she thinks the money raised this year is less than the $250,000 raised last year mostly because an anonymous donor in 2009 provided a big chunk of the difference last year, which was not received this year.

However, donators can still contribute, Prospere said. She said the charity will accept donations until Aug. 31.

The national per capita ranking of the Miss-Lou Relay for Life will not be released until September. Last year, Miss-Lou ranked second in the nation.

Twenty-three team captains and members attended the meeting at the Comfort Suites Hotel, where trophies were awarded for most money raised, best banner, best tent, best T-shirt and most laps, to name a few.

All of the money raised through Relay for Life is donated to the American Cancer Society. ACS works to fund research, education, advocacy and patient services.

In 2007, which Prospere said was the latest data available to her, there were 14,620 cases of cancer in Mississippi. In Adams County, there were 173 cancer cases. Incidents of prostate cancer accounted for the high majority of types of cancer with 41 cases. Breast, lung and colorectal cancer followed, respectively.