CHATHAM, NJ - Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society (ACS) fundraiser, concluded its fourth year in Chatham with $142,550 in donations, bringing the total dollars raised by the Chatham Relay since its inception in 2013 to over $435,500. Forty-nine teams solicited donations, using a variety of methods ranging from the tried and true sales of baked goods, lawn signs, and luminaria, to unique fundraisers such as in-store promotions, themed cocktail and dinner parties, painting sessions, and flamingo flocking. The three teams that collected the highest number of donations -- Wickham Woodpeckers, Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer, and Girlz from the Hood -- all used a mix of fundraisers to achieve their success.
The Wickham Woodpeckers, a 34-member team from the Wickham Woods neighborhood, raised $19,790. The team conducted a couple of fundraising activities with a cupcake theme, hosting “Cupcakes and Cocktails,” an event with live music, appetizers and cupcakes, at the Summit Elks Club where team members tended bar, and donated their tips to Relay.
The Woodpeckers also ran a promotion in conjunction with Mr. Cupcakes of Chatham. Jen Newman, team co-captain, commented on the secret behind the Woodpeckers’ success: “We create fundraisers that aren’t tapping into the same group of people for donations. For example, this year we created a “Cupcakes for a Cure” fundraiser. People could purchase one cupcake for a friend or a half dozen cupcakes for a family and mail them a friendship scroll (that let the recipient(s) know a donation had been made to the American Cancer Society in honor of their friendship), along with a coupon they could redeem for the free cupcake(s). The mailing included a “pay it forward” flyer that the recipient could send on to more friends. This allowed us to reach neighboring towns and areas that our team could not have reached otherwise.”
Chatham Chicks Crush Cancer, a 19-member team of 8th grade girls that raised $11,775, also used a combination of unique fundraisers, including bagging groceries at ShopRite for donations; one-day promotions at Yo Lotta Luv on Main St., Chatham and Vineyard Vines at the Short Hills Mall; and multiple bake sales. The fundraiser that generated the most donations – and excitement – was the one in which team members, operating under the cover of darkness, “flocked” lawns of unsuspecting Chatham residents with pink plastic flamingos in exchange for donations.
Gabriella Cutlip, team captain, talked about how the promotion worked: “We placed 20 flamingos on a lawn. We attached a letter onto one of the flamingos and asked for a donation to the American Cancer Society and, in return, they could choose the next victim to flock. If they didn’t choose someone, we would. This didn’t happen often, but when it did, we chose [Jets football player] Ryan Fitzpatrick once.”
Girlz in the Hood, a 12-member team that has participated in the Chatham Relay since 2013, raised donations through a painting party at Bottle & Bottega, a local art studio, and a barbeque in the Candace Lane/Johnson Drive neighborhood. Katy Pisick, team captain, commented, “Our ‘Girlz from the Hood’ team was formed four years ago after several of our neighbors were diagnosed with breast cancer, so the motivation is very personal for us. Through individual and group fundraisers, including an elegant Backyard BBQ hosted by Amy and Jason Spina (who were among the top three individual fundraisers at Relay this year), we were able to raise $11,739. We were excited to come in as a top three team again, and hope to continue the excitement for this truly special event within our community for many years to come.”