Polk Relay for Life 2017

Relay for Life Community Organizer Haley Cochran lit a torch to honor Sarah Borders, former event management team volunteer who died in 2016. (Kevin Myrick/SJ)

  • Polk will be merging its cancer fundraising efforts with Floyd County.

A longstanding spring event celebrating cancer survivors and raising money for research is taking a break this year in Polk County. This year’s, organizers for the annual Relay for Life will be combining efforts with similar projects organized in Floyd County to allow for local leaders who push the effort year after year to have a little break for themselves.

It doesn’t mean that Polk County’s Relay for Life is gone forever, and that local fundraising efforts won’t go unnoticed, said Haley Cochran, Community Manager for the South Atlantic Division of ACS.

She said a lack of new participation in the event, along with the county not meeting fundraising goals in the past three years, were some of the main reasons why a decision to not holding a separate event in Polk County this year was made.

In 2017, Cochran said Polk County’s event raised around $22,000 out of a goal of more than $60,000 for the year. She said that with the county’s overall goal of contributions not being met, it was not “financially feasable” to continue the event. In 2016, the event and fundraising efforts brought in more than $40,000 of a $68,000 goal. Additionally, she added that much of the participation over the last year in the event at the Fairgrounds has involved organizers and leaders doing much of the team-based fundraising and event setup without new volunteers coming to take part.

So for now, Relay organizers are merging their efforts with the Floyd County Relay for Life, this year scheduled for April 20 at Ridge Ferry Park.

Cochran does encourage those who have in the past participated in the event to take part in Rome’s upcoming Relay, especially those cancer survivors who deserve to take victory laps around the track annually. She also said that plenty of fundraising events ahead of the annual Relay for Life will be taking place in Polk County ahead of April, including the 11th annual Father-Daughter dance being held in Rockmart on March 24 at the Nathan Dean Community Center.

This year’s dance is being held in memory of local educator Tanya Sharpe, who died on Jan. 23 after a long illness, and who had long been involved with organizing efforts for the local fundraiser.

Additionally, Cochran encourages local residents who want to put together teams and third-party events to raise money for the American Cancer Society to move forward with their plans.

Money raised locally can still go toward efforts to fight cancer, and resources from the American Cancer Society can still be used in Polk County as well even without the Relay event. She also wished to thank all of those who have in the past lent resources and locations for Relay for Life, including one local club who has acted as host for the past three years.

“We are eternally grateful for the support of the Exchange Club of Cedartown for the use of the fairgrounds for the event,” Cochran said.