QA with Jennifer Hallman: Plans for Relay For Life kick off

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 2, 2007

How long have you worked with the American Cancer Society?

I&8217;ve been a volunteer for Relay for Life since 2001 and I&8217;ve been on the staff of the American Cancer Society since 2004. I was out in California with the California division for the last three years. My job on staff was not actually with Relay for Life, so this is a different game for me. I&8217;ve been based out of the Tuscaloosa office basically since August.

So you are the new community volunteer for our area. Whose place are you taking?

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Peggy Dunklin and Terry Reynolds were our volunteer leadership planning committee. Those ladies are still involved with Relay for Life.

What does your job as event coordinator for Relay for Life entail?

It means working with local volunteers to recruit teams in the community to raise money for the mission of the American Cancer Society, which is to provide patient services, advocacy, cancer research and education and also to honor survivors of cancer.

How often is Relay for Life held?

The actual event is an overnight event that we have once a year in the spring. We stay out all night walking the track to honor and celebrate those who are surviving cancer, remember those we&8217;ve lost to cancer and fight back. It&8217;s a wonderful opportunity to fight back. We walk the track and we&8217;re out there because it&8217;s a chance for the community to come together. We stay up all night because cancer never sleeps. But Relay for Life is not just the event itself. Throughout the year, volunteers are doing fundraising. There&8217;s an opportunity to do more; it doesn&8217;t just happen on one night.

What are some of the activities in the works now?

What we&8217;re working on now is putting together a committee of volunteers to plan this year&8217;s event. We&8217;ll also be recruiting fundraising teams and talking to returning teams. Some of the returning teams are already doing fundraising. One of the returning teams, Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital, has a fundraiser coming up that is a jewelry sale. We&8217;re also recruiting sponsors. We&8217;re trying to get some of the businesses involved.

What is the greatest area of need for volunteers at this time?

I would have to say the greatest need for volunteers right now is volunteers who are willing to help plan the event because we try to tackle that first. We have to have a foundation first.

What is involved with planning the event?

We have to work on publicity to get the word out. We have to make sure we have our location and our dates set. We have to make sure we have everything in place logistically for the event. In addition to walking the track, we have activities and entertainment throughout the whole evening. If you&8217;re not having fun, then you&8217;re not doing it right. So we have to get people to help us plan all of that. We also have a very special event, which is called the luminaria ceremony. The luminaria involves a simple bag that is decorated in honor of someone surviving cancer, fighting cancer or in memory of someone we&8217;ve lost to cancer. We light these bags with candles when it has gotten dark. It&8217;s a very special ceremony. Throughout the year, we let people know about the opportunity to have the luminaria for their loved ones. So throughout the year, we are looking for our survivors, so we can give them a voice and find out what their interests are. They are a very important part of this event.

Is there more than one Relay for Life event in our area?

The way it is right now for the areas I serve is there is one event per county. There are some areas that have multiple events; it&8217;s just a matter of the needs of the community.

What is your favorite part of working the American Cancer Society?

Without a doubt it is working with the volunteers. Volunteers are very special people and it&8217;s a pleasure to work with them.