I must admit, spring isn't my favorite season. I like flowers and seeing the trees turn green again after a long, gray winter, but then I start sneezing. And my eyes get red and watery. And I get that weird feeling in my throat, like the insides of my ears are itchy. Allergy sufferers the world over know what I'm talking about.
However, with spring comes the Relay For Life season, and that's nothing to sneeze at. This week, Niles kicks things off in Trumbull County, and my family and friends will be participating in the Warren Relay next week.
This will be the fifth year that my family's team, the Sweet Family and Friends, will be devoting 24 hours straight to celebrate survivors, remember those we've lost and do our best to fight back against the disease that's affected so many people we love - cancer.
In our five years, the Sweet Family and Friends have raised more than $25,000 toward the fight against cancer. During our first year, I set a fundraising goal of $5,000, thinking it was a sort of pie-in-the-sky number, but hey, we could give it a shot. I can still see the look of astonishment on my mom's face when we realized that we not only met our goal of $5,000, but surpassed it.
It can be daunting for new teams or smaller teams to see the amount of money some Relay teams bring in. We don't have a huge Relay team, and in fact, our numbers have been down as some of our team members have headed off to college or moved away. However, we've hit upon a few tried and true methods of earning some dough for the fight against cancer. If we can do it, you can do it.
First and foremost, we couldn't do what we do without the support of St. Mary's parish here in Warren. Most weeks after Sunday Masses, our Relay team serves coffee and doughnuts in the church hall, and our friends at St. Mary's donate what they can.
Another fundraiser that we couldn't pull off without St. Mary's is our annual garage sale. The community section of Saturday's Tribune shows that our team isn't the only one getting a lot of bang for their buck with a garage sale or rummage sale. For our sale, St. Mary's parishioners donate items and we sell them, with all the proceeds going to Relay. When it comes to supporting our team, St. Mary's put the "friends" in the Sweet Family and Friends.
Our other big annual fundraiser is the spaghetti dinner we put on, usually in January or February. It took us a year or two to figure out the best way to do things (Hint: Don't leave the meatballs in the oven too long!), but now we've got it down to a science.
Finally, we owe a lot to our team members across the country. My cousins in Cincinnati, New York, North Carolina and Arkansas may not be able to walk with us on May 7-8, but they continue to support us with donations, and we love them for it.
The Sweet Family and Friends are hoping to hit the $5,000 mark again this year. Stop by our tent Relay weekend and see how we did.
Mary Beth Wyko is the Tribune Chronicle features editor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org