Debbie Tyner, mortgage account executive for MidFirst Bank, chaired the 2007 event and has served five years as a committee member. Tyner reported just over $78,000 in contributions, almost twice the record $46,000 donated in 2003. The number of fundraising teams averaged 16 to 18 in the past; however, this year, 34 teams (a record 21 of them new teams) spent the night in the Altus City Auditorium and kept someone walking around the track from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The event was moved from Altus Junior High's Marshall Field due to rain.
“We broke every record set in the nine-year Jackson County history of Relay for Life. We had the highest amount of money raised ever and the most teams; everything doubled this year,” Tyner said. “Last year, I went to the three-day American Cancer Society Leadership Summit in Dallas, and they challenged us to enlist 20 people on the planning committee and add at least seven new teams. We made this goal and far exceeded it. Every year, it has grown.”
Recently received statistics ranked Jackson County as number 79 in the “world” in the 25,000 to 29,999 population category. Based on a 26,936 population, people of Jackson County donated $2.80 per person, well above the state average of $1.32.
Dennise Tully of Designs by Dennise prepared a touching DVD of the evening's events that sells for $15; Tyner said $10 of the price would go toward reaching the $2008 fundraising goal. To purchase a DVD, contact Dennise at 580-649-8009 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The DVD captures the spirit of the event-games, teams, volleyball tournament, luminaria service, decorated campsites and the team participants and survivors wearing Relay-for-Life t-shirts.
The video is dedicated to the cancer survivors, “the real superheroes that walk among us, those who are fighting, those who have won the fight and those who have lost the fight” and in loving memory of Sandy Nichols, 1955-2007. Nichols served Relay for Life from 2004 to 2007.
“Sandy started as assistant Corporate Sponsor Committee chair; then she got her cancer diagnosis and struggled through that but she came back on board and chaired our Team Recruitment Committee. This year she worked on corporate sponsorship again, as long as her health allowed her to,” Tyner said. “A lot of Sandy's friends want to donate in her honor. We will use those funds toward a specific team in her honor next year.
“We try to get our survivors involved, because each of their stories is unique and breeds hope among those with a new diagnosis. At leadership summit, they wanted to know who my hero was and why I participated in Relay for Life. I told them Sandy Nichols and that we had an urgency to try and find a cure. That's the hope and the purpose of Relay for Life, that we will find a cure for the disease through education, research and different programs. I relay because I've lost several family members and friends. I just have a passion for it.”
The American Cancer Society sponsors a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week toll-free phone line at 1-800-ACS-2345 (or check www.cancer.org), where any cancer survivor may call for information. “Most other non-profit organizations cannot make that claim. I had a recent scare myself. I called and felt relieved; I felt equipped; but it wasn't cancer,” Tyner said. “No matter what kind of cancer it is, they will talk to you. I've heard of one survivor who calls the number just for somebody to talk to, and they're there for that.”
The top 2007 team, sponsored by Wal-Mart, set a new team record by raising more than $9,000, close to the $10,000 diamond level. The city of Altus held the previous record of $6,000 in 2003. Three gold teams raised $5,000 each, two silver teams brought in more than $3,000 each and 12 bronze-level teams exceeded $1,500 each.
“Generally, we have one gold and one silver, but this year we had multiple teams reaching those levels,” Tyner said. “Gena Monday, mother of Lane, a 6-year-old cancer patient, was very influential in recruiting almost all of the new teams. So many people think they are too busy, but when you see this lady in action in spite of her son's health, it should put an absolute end to all apathy!”
The 2007 committee members included: team recruitment--Debbie Tyner, 5-year committee veteran, and Gena Monday, first year; corporate sponsorship--Sandy Nichols, third year, and Debra Balderas, second year; activities and decorations--Cindy Boyd, Charity McGarvey and Tina Hudson, all first year; entertainment--Gabrielle Rustmann, first year; luminaria sales--Donna James and family, fourth year; luminaria service-Rev. John B. and Rebecca Johnson, first year; survivor--Gena Monday, Sonya Revilla and Rose Gray, first and second years; advertising and publicity--Dennise Tully, first year; accounting--Karen Thurgood, ninth year; logistics--Gary Beach, ninth year; cancer action network--Donna Altom, first year; online fundraising--Donald Braxton, first year; committee members who moved in 2007--Sabrina Deem, Cherish Milroy and Doreen Narofsky.
Superhero teams and captains were: Plantation Village Assisted Living Centers & Nursing Center (Carolyn Stapleton, Twilla Massie), Estes Tooth Fairies of Dr. Estes Dental Clinic (Bridget Fox), Altus Association of Realtors I and II (Cory Graham, Michelle Coe, Vivian Netherton), Thomas Street Church of Christ Ladies I & II (Shelley Phillips, Brittney Cox), Batty Women (Terra Brooks with family and friends), Lane's School Board Buds (Renee Schulz), Wonder Women and the Occasional Man of Red River Federal Credit Union (Peggy Gilpatrick), Midfirst Bank (Sue Citty, Becky Waldroop), First National Bank (Alicia Brown), NBanC (Serena Hitter), The Fantastics of First State Bank of Altus (Jane Roberts, Rick Cheaney), Mod Squad of Altus Air Force Base (Sarah Frey), 97th Command Squadron of Altus AFB (Emily Rawus), KEY-B (Sam Schroeder), Enlisted Spouses Social Club and AFSA of Altus AFB (Brenda Wells, Doreen Narofsky, Pam Krill), Reece's Pieces (Laurell Jefferson, Dorothy Reece), Navajo Public Schools (Carrie Thornton), Team Prime Beef of Altus AFB (James Rawus), Rat Pack 58 AS/56 AS of Altus AFB (Scott Mills), SOGAG Headstart (Tara Davis), Altus Warriors 56 of Altus AFB (Andrew Wollenzin), Quartz Mountain Aerospace (Miles Hoover, Donald Braxton), Turbinators of Turbines Inc. (Jeanna White), 97th OSS Rapcon of Altus AFB (Aaron Taylor), Roosevelt Elementary (Amanda Davis), The Incredibles of Wal-Mart (Janet Ferguson, Barbara Abway), Civil Air Patrol Search and Rescue of Altus AFB (Charlie Wolfe), Blair Public School (Sheryl James), Altus Airmen of AAFB (Anissa Magwood) and Duke Community Team (Gay Millard).
Corporate sponsors for the 2007 Relay for Life were (donation in addition to providing a team):
Gold level $1,000--First State Bank of Altus, Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Don and Ruth Kizziar and Southwest Oklahoma Cancer Centers.
Silver level $500--Wal-Mart, Red River Community Credit Union, First National Bank, Midfirst Bank, NBanC, KEY-B Radio, Plantation Village Nursing & Assisted Living Centers and Altus Firefighters Local 2749.
Bronze level $250--American Gypsum, Express Pack & Ship, Fox Building Supply, Integris Health, JCA in memory of Trina Dickson, JCMH Home Health Products Inc., Wilmes SuperStore, Mark W. Goodman D.D.S., Sheryl Homes Inc. and Stripes.
Track sponsors $100--Perryman Farms; Smiley's Tires; Tunes & Tints; A-1 Movers; Latham, Nelson and Associates PLLC; Altus Pack & Ship; Altus Finance/H & H Furniture; Dr. Michael Geiger; Darby Mercantile; Eddie Mitchell Insurance; Fox & Drechsler, Clinic Pharmacy; Dr. Steven Gifford O.D.; Margaret and Harold Worrell; Sonic of Altus; Shamrock Bank; Stockman's Bank; Town & Country Bowling Lanes; Smith & Smith Insurance Agency; Centerpoint Energy, Family Medical Clinic and Bob Beers.
Special thanks go to--Altus Public Schools, City of Altus, Young Electric, Atwood's, Coca Cola Bottling, KEY-B, KWHW, Army National Guard, Airgas, all the talented performers, Pizza Hut Broadway, Dominoes, Westside Animal Clinic, Jerry and Eva Letha Lucas, Kincannon Funeral Home, Martin's Ace Hardware and Jim DeWilde as Jimminee the Clown.