Barrington organizers already building up for Relay for Life
Eleanor Sweet McDonnell, who chairs Barrington's Relay for Life effort, speaks during Monday's kickoff event at Francesca's Famiglia Restaurant in Barrington. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:04AM
BARRINGTON — A party room at Francesca’s Famiglia restaurant was packed Monday night for the American Cancer Society’s local Relay for Life kickoff party.
The annual fundraiser, which takes place in June, has already begun generating excitement among those in and around Barrington, especially those whose lives have been touched by cancer.
Of the more than 200 Relay for Life events throughout Illinois, Barrington’s effort ranks in the top 25 for fundraising.
“Barrington has been tremendously successful,” said Kate Monteleone, regional vice president for the American Cancer Society. “It’s a very distinguished position to be in the top 25.”
The Relay for Life event is scheduled for June 7-8, from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in the stadium at Barrington High School.
Monteleone explained that participants, many of whom team up, take turns walking around the track continuously throughout the 12-hour, overnight event.
“The teams take turns walking the track at night because cancer never sleeps,” Monteleone said.
Eleanor McDonnell, event chair for Relay for Life of Barrington, said the event is for everyone in the community, led by cancer survivors, their family members and caregivers.
She said the goal for 2013 is to raise $400,000. Last year, she said, Barrington raised $374,000. Barrington also is hoping to field more than 100 teams this year.
“What we want to do is raise more funds so we can have more survivors,” said McDonnell. “It’s about helping those in Barrington and beyond.”
Speakers at Monday night’s kickoff party included Janet Meyer, president of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce, and Bob Lee, a Barrington resident and cancer survivor.
“It’s in every community. It’s an epidemic,” said Lee, whose Ride for 3 Reasons initiative also raises money for cancer research. “What better thing can we do with our lives than save other lives?”
Several cancer survivors spoke about the power of the fundraiser as well.
“You really got a sense of the spirit of the community,” Monteleone said.
Monteleone explained that Monday’s kickoff party was primarily held to encourage participation from as many people from the community as possible.
“Our volunteers bring so much passion and commitment forward,” she said. “People get really creative and have a lot of fun.”
Monteleone said the relay event also offers activities like trivia games, entertainment from local bands and musicians, and a children’s area with face-painting and balloon sculptures.
“It feels very much like a festival,” she said.
Monteleone said 2013 also happens to be the 100-year anniversary of the American Cancer Society.
“Uniquely, the American Cancer Society is the only organization that addresses all types of cancer,” she said.
Last year, Monteleone said, more than $15 million was raised in Illinois alone through Relay for Life events. She said.
Relay for Life representatives from Barrington High School and several past team captains also participated in the kickoff Monday.