A record 53 teams raised almost $140,000 for the American Cancer Society as part of the annual Relay for Life. The teams came together May 12 at the Cumberland County Community Complex for the all-night event which raised funds for cancer research and community education programs.

Dr. Dirk Davidson, medical oncologist, said the event was about bringing hope to the community. "Hope that those lost to cancer are never forgotten, that those with cancer will be supported and hope that the disease will be eradicated."

According to Davidson, 60 percent of the funds raised will stay in this region, while 40 percent will go to the national American Cancer Society. The funding is used for cancer research, education programs, advocacy and support of patients.

"More important than the money is the chance for those touched by cancer to come together," Davidson said. "It's good to be together and support each other."

Cancer survivors were the special guests of the event and began the Relay with the survivors' lap. Later, those who had lost their fight with cancer were honored during the luminary ceremony.

During the Relay, teams set up booths with food, desserts, drinks, handmade crafts and other items, including nail art, to raise additional funds. A silent auction was also held.

A number of corporate sponsors were recognized during the opening ceremonies, as well. County Mayor Brock Hill recognized Eye Centers of Tennessee, Peg Broadcasting and MasterBrand Cabinets as platinum level sponsors, contributing $5,000 or more.

MasterBrand Cabinets, Inc., was the star of the show, with the team raising $13,404. That averages out to about $50 per employee.

Mike Nuss, general manager of the Crossville plant, said, "We have nine employees that have been directly affected by cancer. Typically we raise $3,000 to $3,500 for the Relay for Life, but this year we exceeded that by almost four times. It really created a sense of teamwork among the employees to keep raising money after our goal was met."

Employees held bake sales, yard sales and other activities to raise money, including supervisor auctions, selling flowers from their gardens and "break the piggy bank" days, where employees brought in their spare change from home. Rick McCulley and Ridley Lee shaved their heads to raise money.

"This is their money," Nuss said. "All of this was money they could have spent elsewhere that they brought in for the American Cancer Society."

Nuss said he hopes to continue the giving spirit at MasterBrand with additional fundraising drives for community projects.

"The employees here demonstrated they are a caring and giving group and that they want to help," Nuss said. "Anytime you can get 248 people working together, it is powerful."

Also recognized were gold level sponsors, with $3,000 of donations, Big Boy's Barbeque, Cumberland Medical Center, Arby's, LaQuinta Inn and Don Hinch and Associates.

"It takes all parts of the community to make the Relay a huge success, and we certainly couldn't do it without our corporate sponsors," Hill said.

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