SHERIDAN — As you stroll down Main Street or drive around town for the next two weeks you may notice the usual green and yellow colors of spring have been joined by an abundance of purple.
Purple is the official color of cancer awareness and members of the Sheridan area Relay for Life fundraising event happening at Kendrick Park on June 20 have been busy “painting the town purple” to remind the people of Sheridan that the event is coming.
Karen Steir is on the fundraising team “Judy’s Radiating Stars” and she has been spearheading the purple campaign while working with her team and the organization to solicit donations.
Steir has been taking part in Relay for Life since 2007 and said that as a recently retired nurse from Sheridan Memorial Hospital she has an endless amount of reasons to support the cause.
“It’s very important to me because I have had cancer, my husband has had cancer, we’ve lost people to cancer and we know people still fighting it,” Steir said.
“It’s a very important cause to everyone because cancer doesn’t choose by age or gender, it picks on everyone.”
Steir is co-captain of the team named after a fellow prior nurse at the hospital who lost her battle to cancer.
“Judy was a nurse who had breast cancer and it spread to her bones,” she said. “She was very involved in Relay so when she passed away three of us took over for her as captains.”
A group of local cheerleaders volunteered to paint 15 Main Street storefronts of businesses who volunteered their windows to the cause. Steir and her volunteers have also been asking residents if they may tie purple ribbons around their trees.
“Wherever we can we tie a purple ribbon we do,” Steir said, adding that somebody tore down all the ribbons from Wells Fargo to the plaza but she collected them, is repairing them and will put them back up. “It’s very disheartening to do all that work and see it torn down but we won’t let them defeat us, whoever did it.”
Though the purple efforts do not help the team reach their monetary goals, they have hosted a variety of events including a garage sale and a craft and bake sale to fundraise. On Saturday the team will be helping with ticket sales, food sales and other activities at the Monster Truck Show at the fairgrounds and will receive $400 for those services. They are also selling 50/50 raffle tickets and the winner will be drawn at the Relay event.
The First Interstate Bank fundraising team “Caped Cure-saders” is also selling raffle tickets to raise money for the cause.
The bank received a donation of a handmade quilt from the local nonprofit group Love in Stitches which is complete with pockets full of action figures and matches the Superhero theme of this year’s Relay for Life.
To date their raffle has raised $268 toward their team goal of $7,500.
The Cure-saders are also baking up a unique way to raise funds. Five bank officers have volunteered for the possibility to have pies thrown in their face. Each officer has a box in the Main Street bank lobby from now through June 16 for members of the community to place donations. Whoever has the most money in their box by the 16th will get a pie in their face.
Team Captain Jenny Epperson said the variety of efforts they have put together this year are aimed at keeping up the new found momentum Relay gained last year.
“We really ramped back up last year after several years of Relay in Sheridan dying down in general and this year we’re really trying to maintain that energy,” she said.
The bank is supporting their team through in-office activities like charging employees $5 to wear jeans on Fridays and a luncheon for employees in which several people contribute some food and everyone else pays $5 to eat with all the money going to cause. Another department is holding a silent auction for employees to bid on.
Epperson said whether you are on a team, fundraise independently, give money to a team, individual or directly to the American Cancer Society, or just join in the walk on the 20th for a bit, there are several creative ways to get involved.
Though she is not a survivor, she said this event is bigger than just personal connections.
“I do it because the statistic that one in three people will fight some form of cancer in their lifetime,” she said. “Even just looking at me and my husband there is a strong chance one of us could face it in our lifetimes, so I see it as a way to fight back ahead of time and also support those currently fighting.”
The money raised will support ACS functions including local expenses.
Among other needs being met, Sheridan County cancer patients that need money to go to Billings for testing or treatment can receive help and the Welch Cancer Center receives funding for wigs for people who have lost their hair.
For more information, to register for the event or to donate to a team or individual see www.relayforlife.org.