Cindy Makson is in it for her father and her niece.
Julie Flint is in it for her late father and grandfather.
And Jenn Meidenbauer is in it for her late husband, who died last summer.
All three women are part of a Wyoming County Relay for Life team called Forever Loved.
The Relay is the American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraiser, and at the June event this year, their team will walk in honor of Meidenbauer’s late husband, Warren.
A Relay for Life participant, Warren learned he had chronic leukemia in 2003, Meidenbauer said. He died Aug. 31, 2012.
“He was just as involved as the rest of us, even when he was sick and stuff,” Meidenbauer said of her late husband. “We brought him one year in the wheelchair and pushed him around in that…Everything has been tough, doing the things that we always did together without him…but I know he wanted us to stay involved, and that’s what we’ll do and we’ll carry on his memory.”
His death has given the Forever Loved team even more motivation to raise funds to benefit the ACS this year. All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society, Makson said.
Makson, Flint and Meidenbauer work together at Warren’s Carpet Cleaning, which Meidenbauer owns. Their team of 25 people has been the top fundraising team in Wyoming County for the past two years – and they’re looking to continue that trend.
So far, Forever Loved had raised around $1,200 by the end of March, but the group’s biggest fundraiser, a Relay for Life Jamboree, is coming up. The event will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 21 at the Warsaw Moose Lodge, on North Main and Frank streets. Four bands have volunteered to perform, and there will also be a Chinese auction, bake sale, 50/50 raffles, a silent auction and food.
Tickets are $10 and are available at Warren's Carpet Cleaning at 454 N. Main St. in Warsaw, or through Meidenbauer (233-3835) or Makson (943-0898).
Makson is at the helm of the fundraising effort for the Forever Loved group.
“I don’t give up... I’m all about doing the fundraising,” said Makson, who is also on the Relay for Life committee. She said got interested in the event after her niece, a survivor of childhood leukemia, got involved in Relay for Life at the University of Maine.
Last year, Forever Loved raised just under $6,000 at the jamboree alone, and they’re hoping to top that with an $8,000 jamboree goal this year. They’re the only Wyoming County group that has such a fundraiser, Makson said, and it was such a success last year that they decided to hold it again.
Hundreds of people attend the annual Wyoming County Relay for Life, which is gearing up for its sixth year. This year’s event runs from 2 p.m. June 8 to 6 a.m. June 9 at Perry High School. Members of each team take turns walking on the track, with different themed laps and activities throughout the walk.
To honor Meidenbauer's late husband, the logo on the Forever Loved 2013 team T-shirts bears the late man’s initials, birth date and death date. It’s a copy of a tattoo Meidenbauer’s brother has.
So far, Wyoming County has raised a total of about $13,000. Incidentally, that's approximately what Forever Loved raised by itself last year, but the group has a new goal of bringing in $15,000 in 2013.
“We’re really trying hard this year to get the word out to the whole county,” Makson said.
Flint is new to the Relay world but said she’s doing her best to figure it out. After Makson previously asked her to participate, Flint decided this was the year to go for it.
“A lot of work goes into it, but it's worth it,” Flint said. “So far, it's a lot of fun.”
The team takes great pride in what it is able to contribute. In the fall, ACS holds at event honoring the top fundraisers for the Western region. The Forever Loved team raised as much or more than teams from much bigger towns in Western New York, Makson said.
“It's like, little old Wyoming County, this little team – we did that, what these big cities are doing,” she reflected. “It was a really good feeling.”
All three women know they're working for a good cause.
“Any funds you raise are good, so you can’t really fail,” Meidenbauer said.
Donations to support the Relay for Life may also be made at http://www.relayforlife.org/, where funds can be designated to a particular participant or team. Relay participants also accept donations to go toward ACS.