The largest Relay For Life event in the world - the Gwinnett Relay For Life – raised over $1.5-million, with a lot of help from a lot of people all over the area…not the least of which were the members of Mothers And Daughters Against Cancer (MADAC) and the people of Peachtree Corners.
It all officially began Friday evening, at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, with the annual “The Purple Glove Dance”; the brain child of MADAC co-founder and Peachtree Corners resident Susan Graveline.
An estimated 12,000 of the 15,000 Gwinnett Relay For Life participants gathered, dawned purple gloves provided by Kimberly-Clark to showed their support in the fight against cancer as they danced en masse - led by Graveline.
“It gets, bigger every year,” said Graveline, herself a two time cancer survivor.
“It is a great way to kick things off,” said Joe Doherty, Co-Chairman of the Gwinnett Relay For Life.
What followed was the annual “all nighter” that’s mainly a fundraiser, mostly a party and always a remembrance.
At 10:30 p.m., all of the lights and signs were turned off and everyone at within the county fairground facilities fell silent. A small band of Scottish bagpipers slowly led a candlelight procession of participants completely around the grounds in a very solemn memorial walk for those who have died from cancer or continue to the fight the disease. A row of memorial Tiki torches were lit, along with memorial luminaries that lined the Relay path – all glowing brightly for the rest of the night.
But that was somber as it got.
The rest of the night was filled with small groups and large groups, milling around, visiting friends or joining in organized activities designed to raise money for the American Cancer Society; whether selling T-shirts, soft drinks, home cooked meals (like the heavenly dished served up by the good people of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church) or gathering to watch, otherwise sane, grown men dress up in ladies' fashions for a “beauty” contest.
The dolled up contestants of the “Miss” Relay Pageant, then walk around the fairgrounds - properly escorted, of course - seeking donations for the American Cancer Society.
“It’s all for a good cause,” said one hopelessly homely Marilynn Monroe look-alike who was “selling” kisses. He (or she) didn’t get a lot of takers, but the sympathy donations - as well as the "No, I'd rather not kiss you." donations - were pretty steady.
Haircuts were even sold to raise money.
That’s right; haircuts.
Several professional hair stylists donated their time and set up a haircutting area for the cause.
The colorful MADAC booth, sporting large pink wings overhead, won Corporate First Place for its booth design. And by the time the morning sun rose to finally break the grip of unseasonably cool night time temperatures, MADAC - alone - had raised nearly $16,000 for the American Cancer Society.
By the way, last year’s “Purple Glove Dance” was produced into a music video that can be seen by going to the MADAC website and clicking the “Purple Glove Dance” icon. Viewers can then vote on the video. Each vote will help MADAC move closer toward winning $5,000 from a corporate cancer fighter to be given to the American Cancer Society.
So, go vote for the video.