COPPERAS COVE — Despite a difficult economy, the American Cancer Society hopes to heavily increase its fundraising totals in the annual Relay for Life event and has gotten a jump start to hit the lofty goal.

Relay for Life is the largest annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Last year’s event in Copperas Cove involved 20 teams that raised $38,000. This year, organizers plan to raise $50,000 with 35 teams. They signed up new volunteers Saturday at Turkey Fest 2013, which kicked off the fundraising season for the local event.

“We had people come up to our booth who did not know we had a Relay event in Cove,” said Amanda Charbonneau, who heads up six different Relay fundraisers throughout the area. “People trust the American Cancer Society. We’re the No. 1 contributor behind the U.S. government to fund cancer research.”

From the Relay for Life events alone, the organization donated more than $119 million to find cures for cancer.

Stacy Ferrell has 13 people in her family who were diagnosed with cancer, including herself. She got breast cancer in 2007 and had a mastectomy.

“We really have to find a way to deal with cancer in our society,” Ferrell said. “We may not be able to stop the cancer cells from duplicating, but we have to find treatments that are not so cruel to the body.”

Ferrell took advantage of several of the cancer society’s many programs available to survivors and their families including the 24/7 hotline, which she said is a great resource.

“During that first 30 minutes after my diagnosis, I did not understand anything anyone said to me at the doctor’s office,” Ferrell said. “The staff on the hotline helped me fill out my insurance paperwork, understand my diagnosis by putting doctors and nurses on the phone to talk with me, and was available for anything I needed.”

She also used ACS’s Reach to Recovery program where she was paired with a cancer survivor to help her through the journey. Ferrell is Cove Relay’s sponsorship chairman this year.

“Cancer doesn’t fight fairly. You think you’ve beat it and it rears its ugly head again,” Ferrell said. “Its scary because there are no guarantees.”

Temple will kick off its Relay fundraising season in January and a new Relay for Life event will take place for the first time at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in the spring.

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

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