Pulling an all-nighter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011



RESERVE – A moderately large crowd turned out Saturday night and early Sunday morning at Riverside’s football stadium to enjoy a festival-like atmosphere for the annual Relay for Life.

The signature fundraising event for cancer research attracted 30 teams and more than 345 participants, who all used various methods to raise money for the event. Participants sold food, crafts, T-shirts and calendars featuring firefighters, with nearly all proceeds going to cancer research.

“The crowd was certainly much bigger than last year thanks to much better weather this time,” said Relay for Life Co-Chair Michael Wright. “We more than doubled our fundraising benchmark from the previous year.”

Wright said the St. John Relay for Life group had a goal set by the American Cancer Society to raise about $58,500. Although final figures were not yet available, Wright said the total raised was more than $70,000.

“We did exceptionally well this year,” Wright said. “This is something to build on for next year. We are in the process of going back to look at what went well and what went wrong so that we can do it as good or better next year.”

In addition to the food and crafts being sold, some groups got extra creative with fundraising. A fairly popular booth for much of the night was the Team Tough Cookies, who were selling fried Oreo cookies and an opportunity to have a photo taken with the Saints’ Lombardi Trophy. Team Tough Cookies chair Natalie Tatje said a steady stream of attendees ponied up the cash for the photo.

Another unique fundraising tool was the Relay for Life jail. Attendees could pay up a donation to have someone “arrested,” and another donation could get the person bailed out.

One of those “lucky” occupants of the jail is Parish President Natalie Robottom. It was not known who called for Robottom’s arrest Saturday, but the parish president spent nearly an hour in the cell before being bailed out by Buddy Boe, one of Robottom’s opponents in last March’s election.

“No one else came,” Robottom said. “I have staff members out here, and no one would come bail me out.”

The event also included a constant stream of live music from various local artists as well as a fireworks display in the late evening.