Relay For Life wraps up, well on way to goal

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett's annual Relay For Life event ended about 7 a.m. Saturday, with about a thousand people clasping hands, stretching out nearly across the entire fairgrounds.

The weary group were the ones who made it through an all-night event, which had swelled to an estimate of 15,000 and raised $1.8 million for the American Cancer Society.

"I think we had a big chunk of the community out there," he said of the 12-hour relay.

After years of record-setting events, the society's Randy Redner said the group is on its way to meeting last year's $2.2 million.

"In these kind of times, if we can just stay where we were, we're doing good," he said, adding that the organization made gains in reaching out to minority groups and added 94 new teams.

With campsites stretched across the fairgrounds, volunteers worked to keep the crowd entertained with a Ms. Relay contest at 1 a.m., where men dressed as women, and an Amazing Race contest at 4 a.m.

"That's what makes it a community event," Redner said of the new ideas coming from local volunteers, including a purple hand dance that left hundreds swaying.

With Norcross High School in the lead in the fundraising effort, people have until Aug. 31 to donate. To participate, go to www.gwinnettrelayforlife.org.