Despite thunder, lightning and rain April 21, Harlem's Relay for Life was still a success, with another record-breaking fundraising year, officials said.
According to figures tallied so far through Wednesday, the city's fifth annual all-night American Cancer Society event had raised more than $61,000.
First-time event chairwoman Julie Miller, however, said that more funds need to be counted and that she expects to reach the relay committee's $65,000 goal by the May 16 wrap-up meeting.
Miller said officials were able to get through the opening ceremonies and traditional survivors lap and luminaria ceremony before storms forced the 12 relay teams into the Harlem Middle School gymnasium. The relay festivities were officially cut short at about 1 a.m. April 22, Miller said. Relay team efforts such as raffles that were scheduled to be completed before the relay's scheduled end at 7 a.m. are being continued.
"We know that there is money out there that has not been turned in yet because of these ongoing projects," Miller said. "I feel really good that we'll be able to reach that $65,000 mark, which I think is unbelievable for a town this size."
She said event T-shirts and raffle items are on display at Harlem City Hall and the drawings for the raffle prizes will be held at the May 6 First Saturday celebration in the city's downtown.
The relay has raised more than $190,000 in its first four years with more than $62,000 raised in 2005, the highest total yet, officials said.
Julie Tollison, the community income manager for the area American Cancer Society office, has worked with Harlem on each of its relays and said she is always impressed by the amount raised.
"If you look at it that way, Harlem has just been so successful. Compared to other groups their size, they do so well," Tollison said. "... Pretty much anything they do, they do successfully and everybody pulls together."
Miller, who is the executive director of Columbia County Family Connection, said the rain did not dampen the spirits of the relay volunteers and even though the weather cut the relay short, she was impressed with the community involvement.
"I cannot believe how this community pulls together and how they were able to create that much energy and excitement about an event," Miller said. "It's very inspiring, I can tell you that.''
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