Thousands of Relay For Life participants walked around tracks all night long Friday into Saturday in North Attleboro, Mansfield and Wrentham, and their efforts provided a major boost to the fight against cancer.
The fundraisers for the American Cancer Society have earned an early combined total of about $326,000, with that figure expected to rise as contributions are being accepted through Aug. 31.
In addition, the Relay For Life of Foxboro/Sharon will offer another chance to raise money next weekend.
Organizers were pleased with the outcome - especially since the rain, except for a brief shower overnight, held off. That allowed the centerpiece of these events, the lighting of candles, called luminaria, lit Friday night in memory of cancer victims or in honor of cancer survivors, to go off without a hitch.
A brief summary of each event follows:
The Greater Attleboro Relay, held at the North Attleboro High School track, concluded its 17th year with 51 teams and 503 participants raising $134,000.
The relay, for the second year, was organized by tri-chairpersons Julie and Mike Haynes and Julie Wallace, and within minutes after the final lap, when walkers circled the track carrying a paper chain to symbolize how people fighting cancer are linked, they talked about how things went.
"We loved the weather," was Mike Haynes' first response, referring to the dry conditions - a sharp contrast to last year's deluge.
His wife Julie said the spirit of the teams struck her as powerful, adding that she was particularly happy that the Greater Attleboro Relay had attracted 10 first-time teams.
Wallace quipped that the leaders' confidence is so strong that "we're starting to plan for next year," but not before all three of them caught up on their sleep.
Top teams (entering the relay): Waters For Life, $16,013.37; All in the Family, $11,126.50; S.J. Eagles Wings, $8,800.29
The Relay for Life of Mansfield at Mansfield High School, wrapped up its 11th year with 48 teams and 407 participants raising $116,000, but that figure will grow as soon as the money taken in at the event and the matching donations are added, event leader Tina Seiler said.
"We had a great year. We had great spirit. The teams were very enthusiastic," she said.
With the rain holding off, Seiler said the relay "had a very nice luminaria ceremony" that included a bagpiper, as did the North Attleboro event.
One new program that drew a lot of interest, she said, was the highlighting of the cancer society's Road to Recovery program, which helps patients get to appointments. Seiler said teams raced cardboard cars on the field, with two people per car to represent both patients and drivers.
The relay, said Seiler, is personal for her, as it is for a lot of organizers.
Asked what she takes away from these events - she's been involved in all of them as both a committee and team member - she answered:
"I take that every dollar raised gets us much closer to finding a cure, so I don't have to lose any more family members," she said.
Top teams (entering the relay): Chris's Chicks, $11,752; Together We Make Cents, $8,447.26; Get to Steppin,' $7,326.50.
The Relay For Life of Franklin-Bellingham-Wrentham moved to a new location for its 23rd year: King Philip Regional High School from Tri-County Regional Vocational Technical High School in Franklin.
The relay's 54 teams and 525 participants had raised nearly $76,000 - $75,672.76 going into the relay, according to its website.
Mike O'Brien, a community manager for the Relay For Life who was working closely with the relay in Wrentham, said in email Monday that the event wound up raising about $85,000 to date.
One aim of the site change was to involve many KP students, and that seemed to have succeeded, as a team from the school, KP Cares, had raised the second most amount entering the relay, $5,252. The top team was Biscotti Hotties with $7,750 and the other top fundraising team was All Night For the Fight, with $3,924.18.
The Relays For Life in The Sun Chronicle area will conclude next weekend, when the 12th annual Relay For Life of Foxboro/Sharon takes place, starting at 6 p.m. Friday at the Ahern Middle School in Foxboro.
LARRY KESSLER is a Sun Chronicle local news editor. He can be reached at 508-236-0330 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.