The cheering from last weekend's Relay for Life continues as organizers crunch the numbers and report that this year's event broke several major milestones.
The Yuma event raised more money than ever before, plus a record number of people attended the weekend of celebration and remembrance.
“It's outstanding how Relay for Life went this. I tell people it was goose bumps good,” said John Courtis, publicity co-chair for Yuma's Relay. “It was so wonderful seeing that many people doing all that great stuff for one great cause.”
Organizers estimate that this year's Relay and all its ongoing fundraisers throughout the community will ultimately raise $270,000. That compares to $238,000 last year.
Courtis said he credits several factors for the boost in money and people, including increasing awareness about Relay for Life and far-reaching publicity through social media.
“Relay is just catching on more and more each year. Every time people come, they are hooked and have to come back next year – and bring friends,” Courtis said. “We get really strong, positive word of mouth.”
He pointed to results from a satisfaction survey conducted after each relay event. Last year's event drew a score of 92 percent approval from participants.
“There was only one place in the country that scored higher, some place in Iowa, with 93 percent. I don't care what you're selling, to have a 92 percent satisfaction score is unheard of. It's just the best,” Courtis said.
A record 128 teams participated in this year's relay, which culminated with an estimated crowd of about 4,000 people during the luminaria ceremony. About 1,800 walkers registered for the event, but lots more people showed up and many brought loved ones just wanting to watch and enjoy the festivities.
“I've said this for a long time, that this is the most caring, considerate and giving community I have ever lived in. I have never seen anything like it.” Courtis said.
His wife and publicity co-chair, Deb, stressed that Yuma's Relay is a wonderful example of grassroots fundraising at its best.
“It's really quite amazing when a representative from F.I.R.M. is on their way to support the team from AZ Supply House with a check for $500 and upon arrival they decide to change their donation to $2,000!” Deb Courtis said.
John Courtis agreed, saying that raising Relay funds in Yuma is truly a team effort.
“We have wonderful sponsors in Yuma and we love them. But we don't have $20,000 corporate sponsors like some places. We have 100 bucks from a car wash, $97 from a 50/50 raffle. It's bake sales and garage sales and candy sales. It's one or two dollars at a time. To us, that's Relay magic.”
Darin Fenger can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6860.