Down to the wire — Englewood Relay for Life

Relay1ENGLEWOOD — Vicky Rice lost her mother and other family members to cancer — now she is working to help others facing the disease as Englewood Relay for Life committee chairwoman and team co-captain.

Teams are preparing to enter the final week of fundraising before the March 23 Englewood Relay for Life, an 18-hour, overnight event where teams walk in relays around the Lemon Bay High School football field to raise money for cancer research.

Relay for Life is an overnight, community-organized fundraising walk started by the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research. Teams camp around a track, sell entertainment and refreshments as part of the fundraising.

There were 113,400 people across Florida diagnosed with cancer in 2012, according to a report from the ACS. Relay for Life team members are often cancer survivors or have a family or friend stricken with the disease, Rice said.

Relay2Englewood United Methodist Church, with 36 members on its team, has had two fundraisers. On March 6, 400 people attended a dinner and silent auction, raising $2,400.

Rice said she estimates the church team, The EUMC Believers, raised more than $5,000 overall. Its goal is $12,000.

Each team sets its own financial goal, said Mike Kekel, fundraising chairman.

“We’re just working hard to fundraise,” Rice said. “We’ve had a great response from the community.”

Rice said organizing a relay team requires dedication and attention to detail.

“It’s a 24/7 job,” Rice said. “Monday, I had 166 messages waiting in my email inbox, 90 percent was related to Relay. I’m continuously on the phone. It’s very time consuming. You need a dedicated committee.”

This year’s Englewood Relay theme is tropical — “Cruise to the Cure.”

EUMC’s theme is St. James which is the biblical reference in chapter five of that gospel related to healing and spiritual support.

Charlene Seltz, Luminaria Committee chairwoman and a cocaptain of team Fellow Ship of Hope, has been involved with Relay for Life for more than 15 years.

“I work in research as a cancer registrar,” Seltz said. “I’ve worked with many cancer patients for over 30 years in six different states.”

Fellow Ship of Hope has 10 members and the majority are members of Gulf Cove United Methodist Church. The group fundraised primarily through church support, chance drawings and luminaria bags, Seltz said. The group is closing in on its $3,000 fundraising goal.

There are 19 registered teams on the 2013 Englewood Relay for Life.

Wendy Rivera, ACS representative for Englewood, said the overall goal for this year’s relay is $70,000.

“We have just over $18,000 from sponsorships,” Rivera said. “We hope to hit our goal next Saturday. We’ll find out how close we are on Monday.”

About 20 members on the Englewood Relay committee each fulfill special roles.

“Florida is such a mixture of people,” Seltz said. “The reason why I support ACS, it’s all state and nationwide. The money goes to help research and programs everywhere.”

Englewood Relay for Life 2013 registration begins at 11 a.m. Saturday March 23 at Lemon Bay High School. There will be a survivor luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. The relay ends at 7 a.m. March 24.

For more information on Englewood Relay, go to or call 941-365-2858.



About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News,, and Tampa Tribune.
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