WILLARD - Friday night's Relay for Life might have fallen a bit short of its monetary goal, but still proved to be an overwhelming success.
The event raised $35,000, which will go toward cancer education and research.
The goal was $46,000. Last year's event netted $43,672.
This year marked the 11th time the Willard community had participated in the Relay for Life.
"Yes, we did fall a bit shy of our goal, but that's OK," said Deb Schaffer, event chairperson.
"Maybe it was the relocation that had something to do with it," she added.
The relay originally was slated for the Willard High School track, but was switched Thursday to the middle school because of the inclement weather forecast. Schaffer said Friday the switch had to be made because about five years ago three individuals were struck by lightning at the event during a storm.
Despite everything, Friday's event ran smoothly, Schaffer said. "We had the luminary ceremony out front and it went off without a hitch. We had the front drive blocked off and the luminaries looked pretty cool. It had a real visual effect and helped with the mood of the ceremony."
Schaffer said the relay can be a life-changing event.
"Some will tell you it's empowering," she said. "When they are first diagnosed they might say, can I bear this? This helps people see that people do survive cancer. The survivors can make connections with those who are first diagnosed. They can talk to the survivors because they have walked in the same shoes."
Schaffer said the Willard relay will be back at it next summer. "Yes, two teams have already scheduled July fundraisers."
Relay for Life began when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon and avid runner, started it in May 1985 in Tacoma, Wash. The next year, 220 supporters on 19 teams joined the relay and the event was born.