Relay for Life pushes past goal

Published 1:29 pm Sunday, April 29, 2018

By Ken Stickney

NEDERLAND — In the early afternoon Saturday swelter, crowds stayed steady and donations piled high at Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society fundraiser.

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“It’s good for a come-and-go day,” said Kara Booth, a coordinator for the annual event on Boston Avenue.

At least 66 teams arrived and set up tents along three blocks, with ground zero established at the flagpole by Tex Ritter Park. “Survivor laps,” time spent walking in honor of people who’ve suffered from cancer, continued through the afternoon as the clock pushed toward 6 p.m. — that’s when laps would be taken in honor of survivors — and 9 p.m. for the “luminary event.”

Booth said the event combined the efforts of Mid County and Beaumont relays. This year, with the cancelations of relays in Orange and Chambers counties, organizations in those counties were invited to Nederland. Booth said there was representation from both places Saturday.

Paul Baker, one of the co-leaders of the event, said he was projecting at least $318,000 and perhaps as much as $350,000 in donations and money raised, well past the $250,000 and $300,000 goals set earlier.

He said the participating organizations lowered their targets because of Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey, which ravaged Jefferson County and left many in financial deficits.

“But we raised more than we thought we would,” he said. He said bigger crowds would start arriving around 5 p.m.; Booth had projected 2,500 to 3,000 people would attend for the day.

The India Association of Southeast Texas appeared to be doing brisk business at its canopy area, as Hasina Pirani of Beauty Secrets applied henna to eager customers — $5 each. Komal Karini, the organization’s president, said it was the first time for a henna artist. The organization has participated in Relay for Life for six years.

Team captain Sheetal Rao said the organization expected to raise about $2,800 in total.

Carol Beard, team captain for 5Point Credit Union in Nederland, which shattered fund-raising records last year, said participation was good but “we could use a little breeze.” Temperatures remained in the 80s.

She said 5Point would provide a “six-figure donation” despite Harvey-related problems.

“Every dollar is meaningful,” she said.