Community rallies for another successful Relay for Life

PUNXSUTAWNEY — What is it that helps Punxsy's Relay for Life achieve its goals, despite the economy and the weather?

It's an easy answer: The community and the Relay for Life teams.

This past Saturday, 27 registered teams in Punxsy's Relay for Life raised $87,383 for the American Cancer Society during its eighth-annual event, surpassing its goal of $86,000 at 8:30 p.m. Saturday evening.

Teams have until July 31 to submit their earnings, which will only push the overall total even higher.

Jennifer Pavlak and Robyn Shaffer, who co-chaired the event for the second year in a row, said the teams and the community are what make the Relay for Life successful every year in Punxsy.

“The people that we have, they won’t stop at anything,” Pavlak said.

“They just go deeper every year for the goal. This year's was $86,000, and we had $87,000 at the end of the day.”

Cancer, Shaffer said, is relentless, but so are those who fight it.

“Cancer is still out there,” she said. “People notice it more than ever, and it's affecting more people than ever.”

“I think the community in general has big hearts,” Pavlak said. “They all want to help someone, no matter what. Punxsy does really well with that.”

While other area Relay events have suffered due to weather and other circumstance, the Punxsy Relay has endured and reinvented itself each year. This year, it took on a Hawaiian theme, but that's just a part of making the event different each year, Shaffer said.

The Barclay Square location — centralized and convenient — has also been a benefit for Punxsy's Relay, as it draws in people in town to simply visit the Weather Capital of the World.

“There were people having their pictures taken at the library, and they said, 'What's going on?'” Shaffer said. “We said, 'This is the Relay for Life,' and they were walking into it. Tourism is a big thing to have here.”

The Relay experienced comfortable temperatures, yet rain at the end of its event – fortunately, after the annual luminaria ceremony.

“Everything went really smoothly; we are so grateful for that,” Pavlak said. “Everyone had a blast.”