HOUGHTON - With members wearing Uncle Sam hats and powdered wigs, the Copper Country Relay for Life kicked off its 2013 fundraising drive last night.
This year's Relay takes place June 28-29 at the Houghton High School track. Held a week later than usual because of FinnFest, this year's Relay has a Fourth of July theme: "All-American Relay: Freedom from Cancer."
The fundraising goal this year is $105,000 - $13,000 of which has already come via Michigan Technological University's Relay for Life.
Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette
Copper Country Relay for Life chair Mary Ann Schulze signs the “Declaration of Freedom from Cancer” at the Relay kickoff Thursday night. This year’s Relay for Life is June 28-29 at the Houghton High School track.
"The Copper Country has proven its support is unmatched, and this is going to be a turning point in the fight against cancer," said Carl Fulsher, community representative of the ACS Great Lakes Division.
The Friday night of Relay, some Relay for Life participants will be able to sign up for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study III. The intent is to identify the role factors such as genetics or environments might have in causing cancer.
Sign-ups will be from 5 to 7 p.m. June 28. The study will accept people between 30 to 65 years old who have not been diagnosed with cancer. They will be asked to give a small blood sample upon signing up.
This is the final Relay at which the ACS will sign up participants for the study, which will follow them for the next 20 years.
There will also be an informational kickoff about the CPS III study at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Super 8 Motel.
Becky Carey of the American Cancer Society also reported on upcoming programs and events. "Look Good, Feel Better," a mini-spa day clinic for women going through cancer treatment, has one confirmed facilitator in Houghton, who is going through training now.
"They feel a little bit happier, a little bit better about themselves, a little more like women, because cancer can take a lot of that from you," she said.
The ACS Wig Bank is also coming to the area at Salon by Michelle. Wigs will be free to any women who needs them.
Several Copper Country residents have also made use of the Hope Lodge, a "home away from home" where cancer patients and caregivers can stay for free during treatment. Last year, three people from Houghton County went to the one in Rochester, Minn., while five from Keweenaw County and 20 from Houghton County went to the one in Marshfield, Wis.
There is also some talk about trying to partner with Beacon House for one in Marquette, Carey said.
Fulsher urged attendees at the Relay kickoff to pursue sponsorships and fundraising ideas.
"We have (created) the most unique fundraisers I've ever seen from dollar chains, to killer bake sales, to car washes, I'm hearing about a 5k run this year," he said. "All the fundraisers you guys do make a huge difference even the fight against cancer."