Local event had been shrinking since it started a decade ago
The Taft Relay for Life Relay for Life's nine-year run has ended, but fundraising for the fight against cancer and support for people battling the disease will go on in Taft in one form or another.
The Taft Relay has seen its attendance and fundraising total dwindle over the years to the point where it doesn't make enough money for to merit full support from the from the American Cancer Society any more.
Now, the local committee that has put on the Taft Relay is looking for other fundraising ideas to keep raising money for a variety of cancer-related projects ranging from supporting research to helping pay travel and hotel costs for people traveling to get cancer treatment to buying wigs for people who have lost their hair because of cancer treatments.
Only a handful of people, mostly committee members, attended a meting to discuss the future of cancer fundraising in Taft without a relay.
Taft is not alone is seeing its relay end.
A relay in the mountain communities of Lebec-Frazier Park-Pine Mountain Club is ending, and one in Tehachapi is losing some financial and staff support, too.
American cancer Society representative said the once-popular 24-hour event has been in decline, and the ACS itself is having to make cutbacks in staffing due to losses in funding.
"Relay for Life has seen a significant decline in the last 5 years," said Ashley Sodergren. "We've had to take a very hard look at Relay for Life. It's an old product. It may not be the most relevant event in your community."
The Cancer Society will not be providing full support to a relay unless it nets $150,000. that's more than the most popular Taft relay ever did
So, instead of following ACS guidelines for the event, local committees will now decided how to raise money and where to spend it.
"We are giving it back to the community to decide what you can do," Sodergren said.
that means local committees like Taft don't even have to remain affiliated with the ACS.
But local committee members said they would like to and the ACS would also like to continue the relationship.
"We are encouraging you to support us in any way you can," Sodergren said. Justina Howell, a member of the Taft Relay committee, said she'd like to continue the affiliation to make sure people know what they are supporting.
"We need their brand name, We need their label,"she said.
Donors can also get tax deductions for contributing to committees that give their money to the ACS as well
Local committee's like Taft can continue to stay affiliated with the ACS through the "Raise Your Way Program" and get staff and other support.
Barbara Schryver, the event lead for the Taft Committee, said there have already been talks with the WestSide Recreation and Park District about having an event there.
Other ideas included a luminaria event at night along Rails to Trails.
The planning for the future of cancer fundraising will start with a meeting on January 9 at 6 p.m. at the Taft United Methodist Church at 6 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.