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Rockwall Relay for Life raises $127,000 for American Cancer Society

By Brittnee Lee. After well-known Rockwall Regal Realtors co-owner Lance Holland (pictured above) was diagnosed last November with Stage II pancreatic cancer, his son, Justin Holland, felt the determination to raise a large amount of money for the recent Rockwall County Relay for Life event, held overnight April 30-May 1 at Cain Middle School.

Over $10,000 later, Holland’s Regal Realty team of 15 people became one of the event’s highest fund raisers. That was because Regal realtor Cissi Scott and Tammy Osborn, the daughter-in-law of realtor Dell Osborn, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, as well. A second Regal Realty team of 15 volunteers, headed by Justin Holland’s aunt also raised funds successfully.

Altogether, 769 people – whose lives have been touched by cancer – made up the 63 participating teams at the Relay, where over $127,000 was raised through a variety of efforts.

Taking current economy issues into consideration, one may not expect one team of just 15 members to have the ability to raise such a large amount as Regal Realty did.  Holland, however, did not let this thought discourage him.

“I was persistent with my prospects,” he said.  “There are a lot of things in life that I don’t like to ask for, but this was different.”

“The event this year meant more to me, personally, than any other cancer research event has in the past that I’ve participated in.”

Holland used popular social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, to raise cancer awareness and ask for donations toward the American Cancer Society event.  However, he said he found that personal phone calls and e-mails to individuals were most effective.

“It’s amazing,” Holland said. “When you start telling people what you’re doing, everyone has a personal story.”

As a team, Regal Realty worked to raise funds prior to the Relay by holding a charity garage sale, charity car wash, and a benefit dinner at Chiloso Mexican Bistro, which offered to donate a portion of proceeds from food sales.

“This was a great testimony to a community that came together for a common cause,” Holland passionately stated.

“Unlike many other community events of this size, there was a special presence of love, joy, and appreciation for family and friends who have battled this horrible series of diseases. While we usually fellowship together for other reasons, this one was most special. You could feel the impact it had engrained in people’s lives through their different accounts and testimonies; their personal stories.”

“This event was a way for Rockwall County to stand up and support those who’ve fought, won, or lost this battle, and to let the world know that we won’t sit back and watch it ravage our families and communities.

“This was our way of doing something; something bigger than ourselves.”

“There were children and adults of all age groups in one place for a common cause. Because ‘cancer never sleeps,’ neither did we. We had a member of our two teams walking at all times from 7 pm until 5 am, when a lightning show forced us to suspend the event until next year.”

Another leading fund-raising team was “Walkers of the Light,” led by Carolyn Keane. The team consisted of several members of The First United Methodist Church of Heath, including Mike Rask, the third highest fund-raising individual for the entire event.

According to FUMC Heath member Judy Holder, Walkers of the Light held a bake sale and petting zoo at their church to raise money for their team, along with setting up coin jars for church members to drop money in each Sunday.

Bella’s House on The Square in downtown Rockwall also helped Walkers of the Light by donating 10% of their profits one evening before the relay.

Much like Holland’s Regal Realty team, however, Holder said that most of their money was raised by going to friends and neighbors, and sending personal e-mails.

“It really isn’t difficult to raise money for cancer because everyone has been affected by cancer,” Holder explained.

During the event, a special ceremony took place for the family of Cynthia Case, the team leader of the “Presbyterian Pathfinders,” which turned out to be the leading fundraising team. Case unfortunately passed away just two weeks before the event from an aortic aneurism. Friends, family, and Rockwall-area citizens gathered enough donations to make her the highest fund raiser of the night.

Relay for Life began in 1985, when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran around a track in Tacoma, Washington for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Today, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities across the United States, along with communities in 20 other countries, gather each year to raise millions of dollars for cancer research.

For more information on how you can help or participate in a Relay for Life event, visit www.relayforlife.org.

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