Relay committee seeks volunteers to help ‘Paint the Town Purple’

Members of Team Sole Sisters set up an elaborate booth at the relay kickoff meeting July 11. (Photo courtesy of Relay for Life of Queen Creek)

Members of Team Sole Sisters set up an elaborate booth at the relay kickoff meeting July 11. (Photo courtesy of Relay for Life of Queen Creek)

Forty teams, $40,000.

That’s the goal the Relay for Life for Queen Creek committee has set for its 2015 fundraiser scheduled for Sept. 26 at Queen Creek High School. The group fell short of raising the same amount last year and so its members are working hard to spread the word about the 2015 relay, its goals and how to participate, event lead Tina Parkinson said.

“A lot of the community didn’t know about it last year so this year we’re trying to get the community more involved,” she said. “We’re making it fun. It’s going to be a lot of work for us but it will also be fun so we can be successful. Last year we raised between $19,000 and $20,000, almost half our goal,” she said, noting weather hampered last year’s fundraising efforts when monsoon storms forced the teams off the Queen Creek high track and into the school cafeteria. “The goal for 2015 is 40 teams and $40,000.”

Relay for Life is an organized, overnight community fundraising walk that raises money to benefit the American Cancer Society, according to the ACS website: Teams of people camp out around a track and members of each team take turns walking around the track throughout the night. Games and activities are incorporated to provide entertainment and build camaraderie between the different teams as well as members of the public who are invited to attend and support the teams’ efforts. The event also honors cancer survivors and those who have died from the disease.

Money raised helps support cancer research and educational programs, according to the ACS website.

So far, 37 participants have signed up on 11 teams for the Queen Creek relay, which will have the theme “Wild West,” according to its official event page on the American Cancer Society website: People may register or contribute to a team on that site.

More participants will sign up once school starts later this month, Ms. Parkinson said.

Queen Creek businesses also are pitching in to help, Ms. Parkinson said. On Tuesday, July 28, Bar Vinedo, 7215 S. Power Road No. B-107, will donate 15 percent of purchases made between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. to the relay. Rudy’s Restaurant and Cantina, 21824 S. Ellsworth Road, allows the committee to use of a portion of its dining room for meetings.

This is the second year Ms. Parkinson and her sisters —  Ginger Schaeffer and Sandra Parkinson — have been involved in the relay. Everyone has a different story for participating, Ms. Parkinson said.

Cancer has affected many of their family members, which is why the trio of sisters relay, she said. Her sister is a cancer survivor. Her mother passed away 3.5 years ago from lung cancer. A maternal aunt is fighting lung cancer while other aunts are cancer survivors.

Ms. Parkinson said her story is not unusual. There are a lot of survivors — women and men — in Queen Creek and the surrounding communities, and the committee is trying to reach out to them all, she said.

She reached Karrie Hodson of Queen Creek on Facebook, where the two women exchanged friendly posts regarding fitness, Ms. Hodson said during a phone interview.

Ms. Hodson lost her mother to breast cancer in 1990 when her mother was 37; Ms. Hodson was 19 at the time, she said.

“She battled for four years. It started as breast cancer, and so she had a double mastectomy. It came back in her bones, which is fast-moving. Once that happened, we lost her in four months,” she said.

Ms. Hodson also lost her fraternal grandmother three years ago to ovarian cancer.

Her team, named The Sole Sisters, is composed of friends from Queen Creek and Mesa, she said. Individually the members are aiming to raise $100 each, with a team goal to raise $1,000. Ms. Hodson wants to push that number to $2,500, she said.

She would like the community to become more involved in the relay.

“We need more publicity, more people stepping up,” she said. “I’d like people to know a little can go a long way when fundraising. A solid donation can really save a life.”

One way people can help is to participate in the Paint the Town Purple event scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Aug. 1. Relay participants dressed in purple — the color of the official relay T-shirt and marketing materials — will meet at 9 a.m. at Paradise Bakery and Cafe, 21202 S. Ellsworth Loop Road No. 100 in the Queen Creek Marketplace. They can eat a bagel before they begin canvassing the town to spread the word about the relay and its 10th anniversary, according to the committee’s Facebook page.

The Sole Sisters team is planning to tie-dye shirts and wear colorful, knee-high socks to stand out during the event.

“We’ll be dressed in purple and then some. The more ridiculous and fun we look, the more we’ll get noticed,” Ms. Parkinson said. “We want people to know we’re here.”

Editor’s note: Are you a cancer survivor who would be willing to share your story? E-mail News Editor Wendy Miller at or call 480-982-7799.

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