Event organizers are calling this past weekend's Relay for Life of Cape Coral a success.
The annual fund-raiser to benefit the American Cancer Society kicked off Friday evening at Mariner High School, lasting through Saturday morning. The theme of this year's event was superheroes.
Thirty-two teams participated in the relay, working to raise funds in the battle against cancer.
"One of my favorite teams was the SWAT team," event chairman Brett Bisbe said, describing the team as local heroes supporting the Relay for Life's heroes. "They had great stuff for the kids on site."
The goal this year was to raise $150,000. The event brought in a total of $162,778.
"I'm absolutely astounded," he said. "It was awesome to get to the goal and then exceed it."
Emily Teachout, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society's Fort Myers office, echoed that.
"We're ecstatic," she said. "It took a lot of work and fund-raising efforts from our teams."
One team, Mardi Bras and Boxers, presented the organization with a $78,000 check at the relay.
A couple of thousand people showed up throughout the night in support of the cause.
"There was a lot of participation, a lot of high energy there," Teachout said. "We had more survivors this year at our event than we've had in the past few years."
Last year, organizers had hoped to raise $125,000, but the fund-raising efforts fell just shy.
"The past couple of years we haven't been able to quite hit our goal," Bisbe said.
"It was out of the world for us," he added of reaching the goal this time.
While the relay was scheduled to last until noon - 18 hours straight - the event wrapped up at approximately 9 a.m. Bisbe explained that some of the Saturday morning entertainment was unable to make it, so organizers decided to conclude the event after 12 hours - the official required length.
"We had talked to a couple of the teams that were there," he said, noting that other groups left during the night, which is not unusual. "They were OK with us wrapping up at our 12-hour mark."
Besides the canceled entertainment, organizers ran into few problems overall.
"The event flowed pretty smoothly," Bisbe said. "The city of Cape Coral was great to work with."
Attendees called the luminaria ceremony one the best observed.
"We had a really great opening ceremony. We had some really great speakers," Teachout said.
The proceeds from the fund-raiser benefit cancer research and patient services.
Teachout pointed out that it costs $2,500 per week to keep a research lab operational.
Bisbe added that the funding raised during Relay of Life helps to support programs made available through the American Cancer Society. Some of the programs include rides for cancer patients to their treatments, wig donations and financial aid with lodging when patients have to travel for treatment.
With the fund-raising season going until August, a few more fundraisers are planned.
For more information on the Relay for Life of Cape Coral, visit: www.relayforlife.org.
The American Cancer Society office is at 4575 Via Royale, Suite 110, Fort Myers.
For information, visit: www.cancer.org or call (239) 936-1113.
Mariner High School is located at 701 N. Chiquita Blvd., in northwest Cape Coral.