CARIBOU, Maine — A record-setting amount of money was raised over the weekend despite a cold night at the Aroostook County Relay For Life.
The event, held Friday night into Saturday on the track at Caribou High School, raised $140,500 for the American Cancer Society, according to Lisa Leduc, relay organizer and cancer survivor.
“This was a record for us, and we also saw the most cancer survivors taking the survivor lap,” she said Monday afternoon. “We were so happy with the turnout.”
Leduc said that 800 people registered for the event and 1,000 people were on hand at 10 p.m. Friday for the remembrance ceremony. For the ceremony, the track was lined with luminaria — bags illuminated by candles — bearing the names and pictures of those who successfully fought the disease and those who lost the battle.
Teams of walkers raised money before the event and at least one team member walked on the track all night long.
The survivor’s lap recognized those who have triumphed over the disease. Leduc said that 171 survivors took that first lap this year.
Leduc said that participants raised $20,500 more than last year and substantially more than in recent years. The relay raised $27,000 in 2009 and $65,000 in 2010.
“I think we triumphed despite the economy because the participants worked hard to get donations and the organizing committee also worked very hard to get the word out,” she said. “The American Cancer Society has put a lot of money into Maine, and the Jackson Lab is doing a research project for them right now.”
Leduc said that 79 cents of every $1 raised for the American Cancer Society goes toward research or patient services.
Despite it being extremely cold for the second year in a row, Leduc said, people were active and engaged in the relay. At 2 a.m., approximately 50 people took part in an hourlong impromptu Zumba class.
Organizing for next year’s event will begin in August, according to Leduc. The date for next year’s event, June 7-8, already has been chosen.