It was a banner year for an area cancer-fighting fund-raiser.
The Bergen Beach arm of the American Cancer Society raised $100,000 at its third-annual Relay for Life on June 7 — $30,000 more than last year.
“We blew by our number for last year,” said organizer Joe Gillette. “You usually expect to go up in increments of $10,000.”
This year, the Relay partnered with area schools to raise money, and Gillette said the boost made all the difference. The Relay bestowed its first “Champion Award” on School District 22 superintendant Dr. Rhonda Farkas for connecting the cancer-fighting organization with area campuses.
To drum up donations, the American Cancer Society hosted a slew of fitness events at local schools in recent months.
More than 1,500 people dropped by Saturday’s relay to show their support for cancer survivors and the families of those who weren’t so lucky.
“This year, we were packed in,” Gillette said.
Survivor attendance doubled from last year, too, Gillette said. More than 40 cancer survivors and their caretakers came to show their solidarity.
Gillette said it was the first time the Relay drew survivors from outside the Bergen Beach area — in part due to an outreach blitz at area hospitals.
“We really started to break out into the general Brooklyn community,” he said.
The Society also showed people that important preventative care does not have to be cost-prohibitive. With help from the American Cancer Society, there is no reason not to get screened, a survivor of 22 years said.
“Don’t sit back — all the resources are there,” said Eulyn Wyse of Mill Basin.
But the most important function of the Relay was giving people hope, Wyse said.
“Cancer is not the end of the world — it’s a new beginning,” she said. “Don’t give up the fight.”