Relay for Life kicks off with new goal

PLATTSBURGH - The annual Relay for Life has officially kicked off for 2011.

According to Joan Sterling, American Cancer Society representative for Clinton and Essex counties, the goal for the Plattsburgh Relay has been increased for this year.

Last year, the cancer research fundraising event had a goal of $220,000, and ended up surpassing that with a total of $231,000. So, this year the committee is aiming for $230,000.

Although the money doesn't necessarily stay in the area, Sterling has seen ways in which it comes back. "Albany Med, which is very close to us, just received a $900,000 grant and it was something from the American Cancer Society," she explained. "At the same time, we, in our region, raised a million dollars. To me, that seems pretty close to home."

Sterling explained there are also programs in the area funded by the American Cancer Society, including mileage reimbursement and money to assist in purchasing prescription medications.

"So, the money does come back," she said. "If you need it, it does come back."

"And for all the survivors that are right here ... they're here because of the research dollars," added Sterling.

Bonnie Berry, Relay for Life committee member and breast cancer survivor, is thankful for the money going to research

"That's the important piece to me as a survivor, is that somebody was out there looking for a cure and we don't do it without having these monies," she said.

This year's Relay will see a few changes, including the new committee chairperson, Julie Stalker.

Stalker has been on the committee for the last six years, moving up to co-chair last year, alongside Mark Brown.

For Stalker, cancer is something she has seen a lot of.

"I lost my brother to cancer. He had a brain tumor. My husband actually is a survivor and both my in-laws are cancer surivors," said Stalker.

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