Award Application - 2011 ALL AMERICAN AWARD Recognition of American Cancer Society Relay For Life Events Description: The All American Award recognizes growth, retention, Relay branding, diversity, and leadership in incorporating the 5D’s within Relay events and throughout the year. The 5D’s include: Fundraising Development, Event Development, Leadership Development, Team Development, and Survivorship Development. To qualify: ● Events must meet National Relay For Life standards • Events must show overall growth • Events must demonstrate successful implementation of the 5 D's • Events must use proper event branding/signage with current RFL logo • Events must show connection between RFL and ACS • Events must demonstrate outreach efforts to diverse group(s) To Apply: Applications including any attachments (photos, forms, clippings, etc) must be submitted electronically to your Chris Reichert by August 15, 2011. Divisions must submit final nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by August 15, 2011. Division winners are announced during the September Division Relay Summit. National winners areannounced to Division lead staff in October & awards will be sent to Region Relay Manager. Because of the large numbers of applications to be reviewed, we encourage you to submit your application soon after the completion of your event. You may include up to two photos for each of the 5D’s (no more than 10 photos total). For questions, please contact Chris Reichert. Thank You!
Award Application – 2011 ALL AMERICAN AWARD Name of Relay For Life Event: Western Berks Division: East
Date of Event: June 10 & 11, 2011 State: Pennsylvania
Lead Volunteer: Denise Pasko
Lead Staff: Jessie Rivera
Phone Number: 610-636-1432
Phone Number: 610-921-2329
Email Address: email@example.com
Growth in the following three areas is a key indicator of your Relays success. Demonstrate your events growth from last year by filling in the amounts requested below. 2010/2011 Income (dollar/per cap)
$169,691 / $237,254.68
Teams (number of teams)
66 / 60
Survivors (3% calculation)
233 / 312
Team retention is also a key indicator in your Relay’s success. How many of your teams are returning teams? Please list the number and percent of total teams. (Example: 40 teams returning with 100 total teams in 2011 = 40% retention.) 60 teams with 38 returning = 63% retention Implementation of the 5 D’s is critical to your Relay’s success. Describe how your Relay implemented each of the 5 D’s in 2011. Leadership Development (Establishing a Business Culture, Focus on Building Relationships, Chairs &Co-Chairs for Sub-Committees, 2 Year Transition of Leadership, etc.): 1. Does your event have 20 or more committee members? X Yes □ No 2. Does your event have a 2-prong structure (growth & production)? Please describe. X Yes While we all work together for the same goal – A successful Relay event, Our “growth” committees (Mission, Survivor, Advocacy, Publicity, Sponsorship, Team Development, and Online) work closely all year long to get more people involved and build the awareness in the community. An example includes the mission committee introducing a Reading Hospital Nutritionist to present the good/bad vegetables for cancer related illnesses and prevention.
The “production” committees (Entertainment, Logistics, Registration, Accounting, Luminaria) work together to ensure the overall event day is successful by making the event entertaining, having the ability to emotionally impact everyone, and educate our participants on prevention, detection, and patient services. This helps our Relay ensure our participants return year after year. We worked very hard to organize our committee in a structure that concentrated on the “whole package” and not just the event as a “show.” While I, as the event chair, and co-chair Marie Shuman oversaw and worked primarily with the growth of the event throughout the year, our second co-chair, Beth Woytko oversaw and managed the production. We built a team using a traditional business model, working toward our strong suits and allowing each of us to play toward our strengths and letting the others pick up where perhaps we had a weakness. The key to growing our event, in our opinion, has been to build a strong leadership team and surround yourself with strong and willing volunteers. □ No 3. Does your event have a succession plan? Please describe. X Yes We have an extraordinary committee. We try to maintain ACS’s recommendation of a 2 year-term and then the Co-Chair moves to the Chair position. We begin our succession planning for the committee EARLY and begin recruiting new committee at team captain meetings in the late winter and early spring. When the ACS came to us (events as a whole) and said that we needed to have key positions on the committee filled for the FOLLOWING year filled 6 weeks prior to the event in order to fulfill pacesetter requirements, we thought ACS had lost its marbles! It was hard enough to recruit people as it was, but to do it that early was just nuts… BUT was it?! So, we ran with it and developed a form that we called the “COMMITTEE INTEREST FORM” (included) and we began discussing the work of the committee at team captain meetings several months before the deadline and getting people excited about it. We would hand out the interest form and were ASTOUNDED at the response we received! In that first year, we had over 50% of respondents showing at least some interest in hearing more about getting involved in some way! We continued to bring it up and distribute the form at each meeting until the end of the year (in case anyone had missed earlier meetings) AND we also emailed the notice out through Convio! We grew our committee to over 20 people and had the largest committee in the county! And it is growing even larger for 2012! We like to encourage as much “new blood” on the committee as possible! The best part is that we were able to find QUALITY committee members from using this form. We had so much interest in the committee that we were able to choose from the BEST candidates to be the committee chairs and co-chairs and slide everyone else onto the sub-committee! It has worked out so well for our event! And everyone is happy □ No Additional activity/comments: Another NEW and exciting thing we did at Western Berks that worked out AMAZINGLY well was we switched up our meeting format this year. Rather than just have the event chair stand in the front of the room and speak at the team captains, we totally reworked our meeting format! And YAH! Everyone LOVED it! A meeting would look like the following: Welcome, general announcements, and then we would break the group into 3 or 4 groups for “mini-break-out” sessions. And we would design the break-outs dependent on what issues were particularly relevant at that time of year. This did several things for our meetings: 1. Made them far more interesting for our
team captains, 2. Allowed us to cover much more material in the same amount of time, 3. Allowed our team captains to get to know more of the committee, 4. Allowed our committee to get to know our team captains better and 5. Allowed us to scout for that “new blood” for the committee! It was AMAZING and we hope that more events will try this format! Please see DECEMBER TC AGENDA (included) for an example! Team Development (Team Development Committee that includes Team Recruitment Chair, Team Retention Chair, Team Mentoring, Data Collection, Outreach to diverse groups, etc.): 1. Retention percentage
2. Number of new teams
3. Describe your outreach efforts to diverse groups Our teams consist of Businesses, Faith Based, Friends and Families, Medical Offices, Schools, Social Clubs, Youth, and National Partner. We reach out to different organizations either by attending a meeting or by mail or by a personal visit/meeting. We invite them to become involved by volunteering, starting a team, or just attend our event. We also are in contact with interested people who attend our fundraisers. Our team development chair and event chair carry business cards and event videos and team captain handbooks in their vehicles and when they are out on their daily business talk to businesses or organizations or individuals in the community and distribute information constantly! Go out to eat? Talk to the wait staff or manager about starting a team! Taking the kids to school? Talk to the teachers or principal about a mini-Relay! We try it all! We set out this year hoping to expand our base with corporate/business teams and schools. We were really able to score a big success by recruiting the Godiva Gems team, which is a team we have been “courting” for the past three years! Not only did the Godiva Team sign up and raise over $2000, the husband of the team captain is a cancer survivor and one of the coaches for the Reading Express football team, Ken Miller. He has become quite a strong speaker for advocacy and actually spoke at Lobby Days in Harrisburg. We also recruited XO Communications as well as the Baldwin Hardware team – all big employers in the area! We were also very excited to dig deeper into the Wilson School District and we ended up with a team from SEVERAL of the schools within the district! We had a friends and family team from the Shiloh Hills School in addition to a school team from Wilson West Middle School and Wilson Southern Junior High! If you can believe, EACH of these NEW teams raised over $2000 and the Shiloh Hills school team ended up our 4th ranking team raising over $10,000! We are definitely interested in attracting more youth teams and this year we did recruit one ALL-youth team. Kids Crushin’ Cancer was a team of all children and they raised approximately $4400! This team was very active and excited to be a part of the fight against cancer. They were VERY proud of their Silver Team Fundraising Club status! Additional activity/comments: We also LOVE the new feature of Convio that notifies us via email as soon as a new team registers! This allows us to reach out via email to the new team captain immediately and personally welcome them to the event and get to know them. We feel that this is important not only for morale but for retention purposes. Teams, especially new teams that feel lost and overwhelmed find it much easier to walk away and we never want to lose even one team willing to raise money to fight cancer! So, we readily took advantage of this new feature and
emailed each new team and immediately began a relationship with new teams coming into our event. It worked beautifully! And to show you how important this can be, take a look at our statistics! We had 22 NEW teams this year and those new teams raised approximately $60,000 for our event! It PAYS to pay attention and take good care of your newbies! By building this relationship, it also allows us to ask the new teams if they know of anyone else that might be interested in forming a new team or becoming a sponsor, etc. We designate some time during our meetings for any new teams that may need additional guidance, encourage team captains to read our “Team Captain Guidebook” that offers great tips, and we offer suggestions throughout the year on how to raise money for the American Cancer Society and enjoy the Relay experience! Survivorship Development (implementation of National Survivorship Model – Year round survivor recruitment, collection of survivor data, honoring survivors and caregivers, involving survivors in committee and on teams, providing volunteer opportunities in ACS programs, involving survivors throughout the year): 1. Describe how you involved survivors year-round We invite our survivors to Kick-Off (which includes a sit-down meal) and recognize them with a gift. We also invite them to a Pancake fundraiser as our guest (to eat free) and we send Christmas Cards as well as our newsletters. When we talk to our survivors or they register, we encourage them to give their email address so that we can include them in our Convio communications. 2. Describe how you involved survivors in/at the event We hold a survivor dinner, ceremony, and lap as well as present each survivor with a gift bag (which our survivor committee goes above and beyond in search of in-kind donations from businesses in the community to fill the bag with extra goodies). This year we also did a Survivor Ambush Makeover where 5 lucky survivors received special gifts, new hair styles, new clothing, new make-up, and were pampered for several hours during our Relay (all free of charge). The survivors were then revealed to everyone in attendance before our Survivor Ceremony began as they were delivered back to our event from their makeovers in a stretch limousine. The event was such a success that it was covered by the local newspaper as well as the local news station (please visit http://www.wfmz.com/berksnews/28203936/detail.html for the video clip and see included READING EAGLE – SURVIVOR AMBUSH MAKEOVER article for a copy of the newspaper article or visit for the online version http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=313838)
Another nice thing we did for the event this year was for our survivor dinner we had our teams “sponsor” survivor tables. Each team had the opportunity to sponsor a table and by sponsoring a table they paid the $20 rental fee to rent the table and chairs from the rental company (and therefore making sure we had enough seating for ALL survivors and their caregivers, in previous years we had run out of seating by relying solely on the tables and chairs provided by the host school district). Once the team registered to sponsor a table, it was theirs to do with what they pleased and the sky was the limit! The only thing we encouraged was that the sponsoring team would visit with the survivors during the dinner, almost acting as their host and encouraged our survivors and their caregivers to stick around and visit the carnival and stay for the luminaria ceremony. We thought this would be a nice touch, some interaction between our survivors and our teams! The teams decorated the tables in various themes – party theme, breast cancer awareness theme, beach-Zen theme, chocolate-lovers theme, etc. Each table included not only decorations, but favors and gifts that the survivors and their caregivers could take home with them as well! We also “strategically” placed the exit to the survivor tent to lead the survivors and their caregivers into the HOPE Carnival in hopes that they would decide to stick around after the dinner, rather than eat and run!
Our survivor committee is made up of all cancer survivors and this, we believe gave us an edge in tuning in to what survivors are really looking for out of participation from a Relay event. From the very first phone call to register or re-register the survivor(s), to a follow up phone call to invite them to an event, to the way our emails were worded and survivor pieces were written in the newsletters, the survivors felt like they were a part of Western Berks. 3. Did you provide caregiver recognition at the event? Please describe. Yes we do. The Caregivers are also invited to the Survivor Dinner and to walk the Survivor Lap alongside of their Survivor. Kid’s Crushin’ Cancer team, as mentioned in the answer to question #3, (all youth team) was made up of kids under 10, although 10 and under still were caregivers, were given special recognition as a first time all youth team that hit Silver Team Fundraising Club representatives from the team were invited to carry the sails during survivor lap. And we had a really extraordinary activity and lap during the event. The goal for our "Make Your Own Superhero Cape" and "Superhero Ceremony" was to show that you don't have to have the stereotypical comic book and movie superhero powers to be a hero to a cancer patient or cancer survivor. It isn't necessary to have the ability to sling from webs, fly, or have a super-human strength. There are everyday people in this world who lead very ordinary and normal lives who are absolutely considered heroes. These are the caretakers, the friends, and family members of cancer patients and cancer survivors. We chose the Superhero Cape activity to help promote the awareness of how important it is to be a caretaker or a friend or a family member. We want everyone to
know that the average ordinary every day person can be a hero to someone with cancer. Our Superhero ceremony included appearances by Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Spider Man, Batman, and Superman, all of whom are the first thing people think of when you mention "superhero". And, while it's not wrong to say that, yes, they are superheroes; we want people to recognize that the costume doesn't make the hero. Once our costume-clad friends stepped back, they revealed other heroes; survivors, caretakers, friends, and family. They may not be thought of as commonly as the others, and some people may be confused as to why these individuals were included in this ceremony. But, to those facing cancer, or who have beaten cancer, or to anyone who has watched someone struggle with this disease, it's very obvious that lacking a costume or crazy powers does not stop someone from being a hero.
Caregivers were recognized during luminaria ceremony. “Let us please take a moment to thank the special people in our lives, our caregivers. They may be a doctor, a nurse, a mother or father, a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a coworker or a friend. Without these special people in our lives, keeping us positive and not allowing any negativity, they keep hope in our grasp, never letting it go, never giving up, they as well, go the distance. Without our caregivers, there would be far fewer survivors in this world. Thank you for being our support, our strength and our defenders of HOPE.” Also, caregivers were invited to walk the silent lap to remember the loved one they lost and they were invited to walk hand in hand with their survivor to walk the lap in celebration. Additional activity/comments: During the event we also provided all survivors with an information card requesting their information should they wish to become more involved with Relay and join or form a team/committee. We received good feedback and even a response through the mail! Another thing we have previously done have been have been to engage the help of the girl scouts to make cards – for the survivors (and the cards were given to the survivors in their survivor gift bags) with the explanation that the cards were to be signed BY the survivor and to be given TO their caregiver. Inside the card it said “Thank you for helping me celebrate more birthdays!” Fundraising Development (focus on fundraising as a priority, ensuring that fundraising tips reach all participants, encouraging letter writing for fundraising): 1. Did you promote fundraising year-round (including online if applicable)? Please describe. Yes we did. We held several challenges for Online fundraising throughout the year, including a 12-days of Christmas Challenge (which included emails over the course of 12 days with a new online challenge each day) and the “Ultimate Call to Action” (see included email) we issued one week before the event that netted approximately $6900 in online donations in just ONE week!! We also have posters for Team fundraisers available at our Team Captain’s meetings and encourage our team captains to share their upcoming fundraisers at the meetings.
We had 794 participants and 682 of which were registered online! That just goes to show how heavily our event relies on our website. We have a page on our website dedicated to “FUNDRAISERS” where we post team, Relaywide, and County-wide fundraisers. We would also send out emails via Convio when fundraisers were coming up. Team Captain meeting agendas (see included APRIL TC AGENDA) and monthly newsletters (see included copy of MAY NEWSLETTER) also included announcements about fundraisers. We also encourage new teams to participate in County-wide fundraisers such as Sweet Streets and selling Reading Phillies baseball tickets as an easy way to earn money for their team. Our team development chair also shares great “how to” tips on raising money. We did our best to educate our teams about sponsorships as well. In November we had a breakout in our team captain meeting about sponsorship to explain sponsorships and how they are like any other kind of fundraising and that anyone can find them and they apply to their fundraising goal. We found that most people simply did not understand what sponsorships were and how easy they were to obtain! (and I think that is true for every Relay event!) As a follow-up to the breakout, at the February meeting, we had one of our participants who took to heart what she learned in the breakout and proceeded to go out and obtain over $1000 in sponsorships share her experiences and what worked and didn’t work for her when approaching businesses! 2. Did your event include onsite fundraising? Please describe. Our event used to do the “traditional” on-site fundraising that you might see at most events when we thought “what is the biggest problem with on-site fundraising?” and the answer is – the only people spending money at a Relay are the Relayers, which is traditionally why on-site fundraising, as a whole, is not tremendously successful in bringing in big dollars (generally speaking). So, we thought, how can we solve that problem?? How can we BRING people TO the event to spend their money?? Have a CARNIVAL! So, that is just what we did! In 2010, we hosted the first “HOPE Carnival” and found that it exceeded our expectations for on-site fundraising. The teams that participated in the carnival, collectively raised approximately $6500!! We had stumbled upon a winning idea! We have decided that the carnival is the best way to bring the public to the event to not only spend their money, but learn what Relay For Life is all about. Once they arrive, they can see that it isn’t only for “people with cancer.” We have such an opportunity to reach out to the community and it is WORKING! And we plan on hosting the HOPE Carnival as an annual event, something the community will hopefully begin to recognize and accept and attend more and more each year. In fact, our carnival idea has been so successful that other events across the state have asked us to consult on opening a “HOPE Carnival” at their event! The concept of bringing outside money into the day-of-event fundraising is worth exploring for every event! Plus, once you have them on-site, you can share the mission of ACS! It is win-win for ACS
We also sell Luminaria during Relay, host a Chinese Auction, and have a concession stand open the full 24 hours. We had several hundred more people on-site because of the carnival therefore the on-site sales of concession food and luminaria were increased because of the increased carnival crowd. People were on-site to spend money at the carnival, but while they were there, they were buying dinner for their family and picked up a luminaria or two (or more) for their loved ones! The Chinese Auction is something else special worth mentioning as it has grown substantially over the past two years. We have taken the on-site income for our Chinese Auction from $1647.25 in 2009 to $3390.64 in 2010 and now $6400.00 in 2011!! Please see pictures below!
3. Did you offer fundraising incentives (for individuals and teams, i.e. fundraising club, early bird etc.) We promoted the Team Fundraising Club as well as incentive prizes for teams and individuals who raised the most money. We also like to recognize teams throughout the year that are doing an exceptional job. We recognized teams (and individuals) for TFC, as well as other milestones and achievements both at our meetings and on a one-on-one basis. We have built our entire event based on communication and good relationships. We have done our very best to make it FUN for everyone. We try to recognize everyone, whether at a meeting or individually. We know our team captains personally – every one of them – and we reach out to them on a regular basis so everyone feels they are being recognized. We feel that “personal touch” makes a big difference in keeping teams and team captains happy and productive. We not only recognized our teams as teams, but we did a lot of recognizing our teams as a part of our event (as the collective whole) this year. We all as team captains bonded together to reach pacesetter status (the ONLY event in PA to have achieved this honor 5 out of 5 years!), we came together to become the FIRST event in PA to become an ACS CAN Club event, we came together to not only reach our event goal of $172,000 before opening ceremony (see picture below), but to take our event from the #1 event in the county to the #1 event in the REGION (which was the personal goal we set for ourselves at kick-off and WE DID IT!!!) That didn’t happen by accident. Our team captains – our teams – pulled together and MADE it happen. Our teams were so excited about raising money this year, we are currently (at the time of the submission of this application) approximately $70,000 OVER GOAL!
Additional activity/comments: In the “Ultimate Call to Action” online challenge in the week leading up to Relay, we did offer a “fabulous” prize for the top fundraiser, although, our participants could have cared less about the incentive. They wanted to WIN! They wanted to reach our goal! And so they banked that money in a big way. We did end up awarding the top three online fundraisers a prize (a Relay prize) during the opening ceremony at the event and recognizing everyone’s efforts to helping us achieve the AMAZING achievement of hitting our event goal by the beginning of our opening ceremony! Event Development (effective emotional ceremonies, well planned survivor lap and activities, well planned Luminaria ceremony, caregiver recognition, fun event): 1. Were your ceremonies emotional, engaging, entertaining, powerful, and diverse? Please describe. Yes! Our survivor ceremony is VERY well attended as you can see in the photo below. Our survivor ceremony was extraordinary. A great deal of consideration must be taken in order to put together an appropriate yet entertaining survivor ceremony. This year our survivor chair came up with the idea of having our survivors and caregivers release butterflies just before we embarked on the emotional survivor lap. Butterflies always seek out the beautiful flowers and feed on them to survive, just as we wanted our survivors to look for the beauty in their lives to help them be the powerful survivors they are. As the butterflies that represented courage, strength, but most of all hope were released, the diverse emotional feelings were represented in everyone's eyes as they looked to the butterfly filled sky. For the survivor lap we chose music that made our participants feel and share in the emotional journey of love, living and laughter. There was not a dry eye to be found either on the track or in the eyes of their loved ones who cheered them on from within the stadium. Even though tears were falling, some of the butterflies took the participants by surprise by dancing around their heads as if encouraging them to lead the way. The Survivor Committee’s engaging spirit through their hard work, passion and inspirational speeches was felt by all in attendance.
This year we promoted year-long Luminaria sales through a successful incentive program which was proved by a record number of Luminaria sales generating $10,000! We encouraged pre-event personalization of the bags which brought a deeper connection for all participants. New to our event, was our first Reflective Gardens where luminaria bags were placed in a beautiful reserved garden setting featuring a beautiful centerpiece waterfall, completely donated by a local landscaper. Our ceremony theme was “Friends Go the Distance” which truly reflects all who participate in our Relay. The ceremony included the top two team representatives reading emotionally packed poems followed by a talented gentleman singing a moving and heartfelt version of Michael W. Smith’s Friends. As the lights went out, the two team representatives lit ceremonial bags on a beautiful decorated setting of purple and white coverings as we remembered those we’ve lost and honored our beloved
Survivors. Caregivers played an important part of our ceremony as we acknowledged their role in going the distance, never letting us dwell on negatives and always kept us positive. In closing, an amazing 9-year-old girl sang Go the Distance where the emotion of her song brought HOPE to every heart complimented with the simultaneously lighting of Hope in the bleachers with a star in place of the “O.” With not a dry eye in the stands, together we walked a silent lap in remembrance of our experiences and with those special friends we’ve shared them. A wonderful CELEBRATION OF HOPE was achieved as each step took us closer to a world with more birthdays!
We received overwhelming feedback after the event about how satisfied and inspired people were! 2. Was your event engaging all throughout the night? Please describe and submit program / schedule. Yes. In addition to the carnival, which is a HUGE draw and has tons of games and fun, we had activities planned for the full 24 hours including: special laps, lap beads, games, music, bands, arts and crafts, dunk tank, etc. Please see included SCHEDULE OF EVENTS. Even though it stormed and we had to move everyone inside, there were still games played and singing while they waited out the storm. By 3am we had to move everyone indoors and just take a look at this link to see the spirit of our Relayers in a hot gym at 3am with nothing to do (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4N6fsLPXv4). Simply AMAZING! The outstanding part of what our Activities/Entertainment committee did this year was to engage our Relayers BEFORE the event. As discussed in the answer to question #3, we had mini-breakouts in each of our monthly meetings. At the May meeting, one of the breakouts was an Activites/Entertainment breakout and I have to say, the chair and co-chair WOW-ed the team captains! They came in with props and music and got people invested in the activities that were to come at the event! From this meeting on, they sent emails through convio to start filling the schedule for the dunk tank (which in previous years had gone un-used because no one had bothered with it), but simply by generating a buzz about it and generating a schedule before-hand, we had FILLED the schedule for the ENTIRE available time at Relay in ½ hour increments and raised $674! We also doubled our income from the Ms. Relay competition just by really generating that interest prior to the event by discussing it at the meeting and by emailing details through Convio! We had 10 contestants competing raising approximately $3088 (compared to the 3 contestants who had raised approximately $900 the previous year)! 3. Was your event properly branded with the current RFL logo and does your event connect RFL to ACS? Please describe. Yes. We have banners, posters, and signs hanging throughout the stadium as well as ACS staff on site. We encourage all of our teams to use the brandwizard website for all of their flyers and promotional materials prior
to the event as well. We utilize the current RFL logo on all of our materials that we distribute and if we find someone using an older version, we promptly correct the problem and provide them with the correct materials.
We also promote the use of the RFL URL on all flyers and promotional items. We heavily use our website to distribute information, so as much as possible, we like to direct people to our website for information.
We recognize that branding is an issue and we encourage our participants to not only reference the “Relay For Life” name but the “American Cancer Society” name as well when speaking to members of the community and potential sponsors and in-kind donors, etc. One of our sponsors had purchased window decals for us that display the RFL logo and relayforlife.org. We distribute them to teams and at fundraisers and to sponsors and in-kind donors. We will give them to pretty much anyone that will display them in their business or car. Having a clear plan and vision for your Relay is also critical to its success. Does your event have a plan that incorporates future goals? Share details of your plan for income, teams, and survivors in upcoming years: We at Western Berks have BIG GOALS! And we tend to achieve what we set our sights on! We have the most motivated and inspired group of volunteers ever! We always strive to do better each year by increasing our goals for survivors, luminaria, dollars raised, teams, sponsorship dollars, and ACS Can memberships. We also strive to promote awareness of Relay for Life by attending community events such as Health Expos and National Night Out. We attempt to increase our fundraising efforts by holding several Relay wide fundraisers each year such as Relay Bingo, Breakfast with Santa, Chicken Barbeques, etc. This not only increases dollars but helps to reach more people in the community, which in turn helps to create more teams and awareness. We are indeed an All-American Relay, a showcase event that the American Cancer Society can be proud of! We have not yet closed the books on the 2011 Relay season, but at the time of completing this application, Western Berks is so far $70,000 ABOVE GOAL and STILL banking money! We are growing by leaps and bounds and I cannot simply say that it is luck. Yes, we have worked hard. Yes, we have a fantastic group of volunteers. But it is what you DO with the volunteers that will make a difference. They need to be motivated, they need to be inspired! And I truly believe that communication is the KEY to our success. I have been asked time and time again what our “secret to success” is and the only answer I have ever been able to offer is that we don’t have a secret – we have an outstanding group of volunteers, as does every event, but we have built a special culture at Western Berks and it is social networking and communication and IT WORKS! And the proof is in the success of our event! ONLY event in PA to be Pacesetter 5 years in a row! We became the first event in PA to become an ACS CAN Club event! We actually hit our event goal BEFORE opening ceremony!
We started out this year only wanting to become #1 in the East Region (only?! Right?? HA!) Well, we exceeded that goal and ended up coming so close to reaching a quarter of a million dollars banked this year! So, we would have to say that even though our event goal may not reflect this, our personal goals would be to hit a quarter of a million dollars in a single year! And we tend to achieve our goals! Watch out ACS! Bigger and better things are going to be coming from Western Berks! Our number of teams actually dropped this year because of the dropped cap on team member requirement – we streamlined, which was fine by us. We feel it makes more sense this way. Our number of participants did not suffer, though. We increased from 682 in 2010 to 794 in 2011, even with fewer teams. So, we ran with our 60 teams this year and we hope to grow, grow, grow even more! We do have our eyes on our site facility, though. We are nearing maximum capacity and as we grow we may have to consider a site change. So, while I say that our team goals soar to 80 teams and beyond, we have to consider our logistics as we move forward. We need to make sure everyone stays comfortable and happy! And as far as survivors go? The sky is the limit. Our survivor committee is made up of all cancer survivors and this, we believe gave us an edge in tuning in to what survivors are really looking for out of participation from a Relay event. From the very first phone call to register or re-register the survivor(s), to a follow up phone call to invite them to an event, to the way our emails were worded and survivor pieces were written in the newsletters, the survivors felt like they were a part of Western Berks. I had personally received feedback from several survivors that had appreciated being “kept in the loop” on what we were “up to” throughout the year (even if they were going to miss a particular fundraiser or even the event in June). Our number of survivors increased tremendously (FY2010-2011 we increased 95 survivors – up to 312 from 217 in 2009-2010) and we can attribute that to the overall philosophy of having survivors leading the charge and creating an entire package of communication throughout the year to keep in touch and letting them know how important they are to the American Cancer Society. We LOVE our survivors and we want to expand to include many, many more in the coming years! I think that at over 300 we have finally built a good “base” of survivors to build on! We can grow from here and include and appreciate so many more in the years to come! We have so much great work ahead of us! Additional Comments/Photos: