Strength in numbers

This spring, the Boardman Relay for Life recruited the second largest number of fundraising teams in Ohio. The committee had 65 registered teams with more than 1,200 registered participants, raising $257,581 at the end of the fiscal year on Aug. 31. More than 2,500 people attended the event as well.

The Boardman Relay for Life committee learned of the news after their staff partner at the American Cancer Society, Tasha Wells, sent out an email.

“It wasn’t long before the message had been tweeted, Facebooked and texted to all of our participants,” said Chary Hively, chair of team recruitment and development for the Boardman Relay for Life. “How could we not be proud to be a part of such an amazing boost to the fight against cancer?”

Wells, a representative for the American Cancer Society Income Development, said a lot of support and guidance factored into their success.

“We have a lot of community involvement, and Boardman is a big shopping area, so we had over $35,000 in sponsorship,” Wells said.

Hively said the community, including Boardman’s surrounding areas, helped out. She said in the past two decades, many communities have sent participants, volunteers and teams.

However, Hively said behind-the-scenes work should not go unnoticed either.

“Most Relay teams spend months out of the year, if not the entire year, fundraising and planning for our Relay weekend,” she said. “We’re also fortunate enough to have a very experienced and dedicated committee overseeing the event and an army of volunteers who help us along the way.”

Wells said both the Boardman and Warren Relay committees are consistently ranked among the top five in fundraising throughout Ohio. The Boardman Relay has also raised more than $4 million in the last 20 years.

Wells said both Warren and Boardman were the first Relay organizations in the Mahoning Valley.

“They needed that time to grow in the community,” Wells said.

Youngstown State University students play a big role in Relay for Life membership. Danielle Procopio, event chair for the Boardman Relay, said the students are dedicated to supporting the people who live in the area.

“Cancer has touched most people, and I am sure it’s no different for most of YSU’s students,” Procopio said. “Being a part of Relay provides you the opportunity to fight back against cancer and change the future for others that hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’”

She said a few YSU students are on the committee, including Josh Prest, Danielle Shovlin and Megan Cherol; they became involved as high school students and have remained involved ever since.

“It’s an honor that they choose our event to be a part of. There are several communities in Mahoning and Trumbull [counties] that have relays,” Procopio said. “I’m glad they choose to support ours.”

Shovlin said her efforts come from personal experience, watching many people around her battle with cancer.

“88 percent of every dollar raised by Relay for Life goes directly to cancer research,” Shovlin said. “I believe that if we are able to keep raising funds, I will live to see the day that we will live in a world that is cancer free.”

Procopio has been part of the Boardman Relay since 2006, but she said she was stunned by the good news.

“With the economy being what it is, I didn’t expect northeast Ohio to raise more money than Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati,” Procopio said. “What that tells me is that our community is committed to supporting its neighbors and fighting against cancer. It makes me proud to be a part of [the] cure.”

Hively said committees are always in need of more volunteers.

“Forming a team is easy; simply gather 10 or more friends who hate cancer and wish to fight back,” she said.

Hively said a team is available for individuals who want to participate, but can’t summon enough friends to form a team of their own.  

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