Relay ramps up activity with $400K goal

Eleanor Sweet-McDonnell thanks Wickstrom Auto Group for providing the Relay for Life Jeep, which will travel to each Barrington Relay event this year.
Eleanor Sweet-McDonnell thanks Wickstrom Auto Group for providing the Relay for Life Jeep, which will travel to each Barrington Relay event this year.

BARRINGTON – The signature purple color of Relay for Life is again popping up throughout Barrington as organizers shift into high gear as they plan for the June fundraiser.

Last year, Relay for Life of Barrington raised $374,000 for the American Cancer Society. For the first time, Relay organizers are going on record with a goal for the 2013 fundraising: $400,000.

“I felt if we had a goal it makes it more tangible to see, ‘What are we going for?’” said event chair Eleanor Sweet-McDonnell. “Yes, we’re going for helping those in need and those with cancer, but if you put a dollar amount on it, it just, I think, solidifies and gives us an end goal to shoot for.”

For Sweet and the rest of her organizers, setting a goal was a small part of the work that needs to be done to prepare for the June 7 community event.

The season kicked off in January with a party at Francesca’s Famiglia, and more events are planned for the coming months.

For Connor Maytnier, this means it’s a busy time of year. Maytnier is a senior at BHS, works two jobs and serves as the youth chair for Relay for Life.

Along with being involved in all Relay events, it is up to him and his fellow youth organizers at BHS to make the event something young people will get excited about.

Maytnier decided that appealing to the clubs and teams at BHS would lead to great fundraising with some friendly competition, so he created the Barrington Crusade Against Cancer. Thermometer charts will be posted around the school, and each student organization was encouraged to create its own Relay team and compete against the rest of the groups to raise the most money.

“They’re already existing groups so we thought there was a natural tie-in to forming a Relay team,” said Maytnier. So far, 25 organizations have signed up.

Another new program this year will be Barrington’s first Mr. Relay Contest.

“It is opportunities for guys to dress up as girls and walk around the track collecting donations,” Maytnier said. “I think it’s a really unique and creative fundraising idea.”

Sweet described it as an “Italian wedding” sort of fundraiser. The men, while embracing their feminine sides, will carry bags for people to put money into.

Before the event, teams will be hosting fundraisers throughout the spring.

Paul Rodriguez is the team development chair, and works to encourage past participants to register again, find new organizations and ask them to join, and give existing teams advice and encouragement.

“Some of the teams do it but don’t really seek special support from the committee,” said Rodriguez. “By and large, most of the teams really do rely on the personal solicitation using old-fashioned letters and online tools.”

However, some teams, like his son Nick’s, do hold larger events.

Nick Rodriguez, a freshman at BHS, is also involved in the school’s Relay committee. He and his family joined the organization because Paul’s daughter, Elena, has had her own battle with cancer.

Nick started a team in 2011 and now, they hold an annual pool party to help raise money for Relay. They raised $16,000 the first year and almost $25,000 last year.

“It’s very positive for our family to be able to channel our energy into something positive,” Paul said. It is a part of life where the Rodriguez family feels they have power.

There are a number of other events coming up, and Relay organizers are asking teams to form and register online. There are youth and community meetings April 17 at Barrington High School. The youth meeting is at 2 p.m. and the community is welcome to attend the meeting at 7 p.m.

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