Relay For Life seeks a volunteer to lead stadium-event effort here

Cancer survivors clad in purple T-shirts make their way around the track for the opening lap at the 2017 Relay For Life. The stadium event generated a total of $39,737.57, down from 2016’s $70,155. Times file photo courtesy Karen Eubank.

The American Cancer Society is looking for people to help plan Relay For Life in Ozark County.

Since 2006, at this time of year, the Ozark County Relay For Life planning committee is usually busy with plans for the county’s annual June fundraiser for the American Cancer Society: teams are being formed, luminarias are being sold, bake sales are being held and money is being raised as plans are laid for Relay night in Benton Breeding Stadium at Gainesville High School.

Those who have served on the committee since its inception have put in 12 years of work, and the results of that work are pretty impressive, especially for such a small county. Since that first Relay in 2006, the citizens of Ozark County, with help from Douglas County teams, have raised almost $930,000 for the American Cancer Society.

April Luna is one of those who has served on the committee that has planned Relay since 2006. For the past three years, she has also served as the event leader. This year she’s stepping down. “I just can’t do it this year,” Luna said. “It’s a lot of work to make Relay happen, and it takes a lot of people so that it isn’t left on just a few. I don’t want to see it go away, because it’s so special to people.”

In 2017, the total money raised was $39,737, about half of the average amount usually raised at Ozark County’s Relay. “I would like to see it continue, but I do see our Relay struggling this year unless we get some new ideas,” added Luna, who has two school-age sons and is expecting a baby in October. “I hope ACS gets some good feedback, and someone will step up.”

“Relay For Life planning is truly a group effort,” said Ashley Clair, community development manager for the north region of the American Cancer Society. Clair said the role of the event leader is to “serve as the face and voice of the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life event within the community to lead and manage by empowering the Relay For Life event leadership team.” 

Claire said ACS is looking for a volunteer who possesses strong leadership and interpersonal skills, is outgoing and will hold monthly or bimonthly meetings with the event leadership team to discuss benchmark goals and progress. “The event leader should be a strong communicator and delegator,” Claire said. 

In response to questions about how the money raised here is spent, Claire mentioned the impact that Hope Lodge has had on Ozark County cancer patients. “In the past year, seven Ozark County cancer patients have utilized stays at one of our Hope Lodges,” Claire said. “While that may not seem like a lot, these patients actually stayed in a Hope Lodge facility for a total of 128 nights. With the average cost of a hotel in Kansas City or St. Louis being roughly $150 per night, this ends up being a total of $19,200 that we were able to help local cancer patients save.”

Jeff Nash, who served as event leader for several years, also is stepping away from the Relay For Life planning committee. “Relay has been a fun and rewarding experience for me and my family,” Nash said. “But things have changed in my life, and I don’t feel like I can devote the time and attention to Relay that I have in the past. I hope ACS finds some people so that Relay can continue in Ozark County.”

To volunteer or for more information, contact Ashley Clair at 417-447-1472 or

Ozark County Times

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