Radford mayor rallies for Relay support

By Heather Bell

RADFORD — The city’s mayor is hoping to rev up support in the community for this year’s Radford Relay for Life (RFL), the first year the city will hold a separate event from Radford University.

Mayor Bruce Brown, a cancer survivor, is urging the Radford community to get involved with this year’s Relay for Life fundraising effort on behalf of the American Cancer Society. Brown is surrounded by plastic pink flamingoes in this 2011 photo after his yard was covered with the lawn ornaments as a fundraiser for that year’s Relay event. Photo by Heather Bell.

Past Radford Relay events, which benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS), have been roughly equally composed of RU student teams and city resident teams. With RU holding its own event on campus in mid-April, volunteers for the city’s RFL are hoping to build a strong event of their own.

Radford Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown is no stranger to cancer, having battled the disease more than once. At Monday’s Radford City Council meeting, Brown made a plea to the community to support this year’s Radford Relay, set for Friday, May 3 at the Radford Recreation Center.

“We need more help with our Relay for Life this year from everyone out there,” said Brown during the council member comment portion of Monday’s council meeting. “This whole room has been affected by [cancer]. We need everyone to get involved.”

Brown put out a challenge to civic organizations and businesses, as well as city staff, the school system, churches and others, to form teams for the event.

“We can do this,” he said.

The next team meeting is set for Tuesday, March 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Radford Rec Center and is open to anyone who would like to sign up, as well as current participants. Online sign-up is also available at www.relayforlife.org/radford.va.

As of Friday, there were nine teams signed up with about $2,600 raised. Brown hopes to see that number increase dramatically.

“We can and must do better,” Brown said in an e-mail to several community stakeholders. “There is no reason that every realty office, every insurance office, every law firm, every restaurant, every church, every civic club, every school, every doctor’s/dentist’s office, every retail store, every bank, every funeral home, every industry, every grocery store in the city could not sponsor and/or support a team. Think of the potential and let’s make it happen.”

Radford’s Relay for Life, as with all Relay events, is an overnight event that features fun in addition to the solemnity the event brings. Teams of people camp out overnight and walk around the walking track above the recreation center’s gymnasium. Activities happen throughout the night, including entertainment, talent competitions, games, raffles, food and fellowship with friends. Features include the Opening Ceremony, Survivor’s Lap and Luminaria Ceremony. It begins at 6 p.m. on Friday and ends at 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 4. The event is being chaired by Erika Tolbert, Sonia Ramsey and Helen Reed.

Relay for Life events are the ACS’s signature fundraising event, raising millions of dollars for cancer research at local events around the country.