$235K collected in annual Relay for Life

COVINGTON -- Team Becky finished ahead of the fundraising pack in this year's Relay for Life in Newton County.

The team, headed up by Brenda Stanton, brought in $17,561 for the American Cancer Society, well ahead of its stated goal to raise $12,000.

"In November, Becky, our daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, great aunt and friend, was diagnosed with lung cancer," reads the team's posting on the Relay for Life Web site. "Becky has been a big supporter of the Relay for Life program for the last 10 years. We couldn't think of a better way to show our support for her than to help raise the money needed for cancer education, advocacy, research and service."

More than 375 cancer survivors and 67 teams, all dedicated to raising money for cancer research and enhancing the qualify of life of cancer victims, participated Friday night and Saturday in the Relay for Life festivities held at The Church at Covington.

The event started at 7 p.m. with the Survivors Lap. After dark, attendees participated in the Luminaria Ceremony, where candles were lit in honor of those who have battled cancer.

The Newton County Relay for Life is still short of its overall goal. Victoria Patrick, Senior Community Manager with the American Cancer Society, said she expects the local organization to continue to raise funds for the American Cancer Society throughout the remainder of the campaign season, which extends to August.

This year's goal was to raise $275,000, according to the Relay for Life Web site. As of Monday, however, only $235,691 had been raised.

"I expect that number to continue to rise as they hold more fundraisers and sell more cookbooks," Patrick said.

Even so, Newton County may fall short of its overall goal due to the struggling economy, which is only beginning to show signs of recovering. She said she expects the final tally to be somewhere around $238,000 and $240,000.

"We're finding a lot of places are down and people are still giving, they're just not giving as much," Patrick said. "I'm very, very proud of Newton County. They worked really hard and just didn't give up."

At the same time, the top teams all exceeded their fundraising goals this year. In addition to Team Becky, Lendmark Financial Services Inc. raised $16,087.70, ahead of its goal of $15,000. The team from Bard Medical raised more than twice what it set out to do, bringing in $15,755.39 while its goal was to raise $7,500. Likewise, the team from Newton High School set a goal to raise $4,500 and brought in more than $10,656.

For more on this year's Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/newtonga.