OLD TOWN, Maine — Fundraising for the 17th annual Relay for Life in Old Town is entering the 21st century thanks to the efforts of one determined local team.
“Team Twitter,” headed by Audrey Brissette of Bangor, is named for the social networking website the team used to reach out for support from the community and spread awareness of the event. A new team this year, the group is aiming to collect at least $2,500 at Friday night’s event at Old Town High School.
“The economic times are such that it’s really hard to ask people to go out and ask for money,” Brissette said, adding that Twitter was an avenue that made it possible to avoid this dilemma.
According to the website for the American Cancer Society, the agency that sponsors the program, the Relay for Life is designed to give participants “a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.” Running from 6 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday, each hour of the Old Town relay will carry a whimsical theme ranging from pirates to the jungle, underscoring the optimistic nature of the event.
Mike Hart, the Old Town event coordinator, said he expects the relay will raise approximately $155,000 by its close on Saturday. About $114,000 has been donated.
“To be that much in the bank before we start is amazing,” Hart said.
Team Twitter’s unusual tactics extend far past cyberspace. Brissette said the group has been planting a “flock” of blue flamingos in friends’ yards around town, which members will gladly remove for a $10 donation and place in another location of the victim’s choosing for an extra $10. Teammates also have been collecting bras for donation to the Athena’s Cup project, an organization that seeks to raise breast cancer awareness by breaking the world record for most bras linked together. Both the flamingos and bras will be on display at the team’s campsite Friday night.
Even the fair-weather forecast for the event is unusual. Hart and Brissette agreed that the majority of past relays have been rain-soaked affairs. Brissette believes the timing of Team Twitter’s creation and the improved weather is more than mere coincidence.
“We’re bringing the sunshine from now on,” said Brissette.