OUR VIEW: Relay can once again say 'We're No. 1'

“We’re No. 1” is a chant usually reserved for the playing fields. But after another successful year of raising funds to combat cancer, you may have heard it being uttered this week by the many volunteers and participants who once again made Gwinnett County’s Relay for Life event tops in the world.

In what has become perhaps the county’s signature event — thousands gathering each May at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds for the all-night affair — the fundraiser for the American Cancer Society has made its mark over the years, consistently establishing itself as No. 1 among all Relays.

But last year Bakersfield, Calif. took over the top spot. And like an athlete that is challenged, the Gwinnett Relay resolved to return to the top. This week, when the final totals were tallied, Gwinnett was back in a familiar place, ranking atop the Relay list while raising more than $1.8 million. Bakersfield was second, raising nearly $1.7 million.

The winners in this case are the cancer patients who will benefit from the money raised from all Relay events. But there is a lot of civic pride in being No. 1, and that pride helps motivate the Gwinnett contingent to keep pushing, and growing, year after year. To see that effort rewarded with the top ranking is a source of pride for the American Cancer Society employees who help lead Relay For Life.

“Relay is about celebrating and fighting back against cancer and no other community does it better than Gwinnett,” said Cathy Longino, senior manager for Gwinnett’s Relay event. “A big thank you goes to our team captains, because they’re the ones leading our participants and teaching great fundraising ideas.”

Longino said she is also grateful for the coroporate sponsors who contribute, and to Gwinnett County Public Schools, whose students make a huge impact with their fundraising. She also lauded Sheila Fowler and Susan Lee — co-chairs of the event — as well as the many volunteers who work tirelessly to help make Relay For Life a success.

It’s an accomplishment that takes an entire community to achieve. And this week that community can once again say: “We’re No. 1.”