Oxford’s Kroger store was recognized by the company s Cincinnati Division for raising the largest total of any single store in the Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky area for Relay for Life this year. Employees and their mascot Baggster pose on the Uptown performance pavilion during the June 24 event. Relay moved Uptown this year and had a successful day of activities. CONTRIBUTED

Relay for Life exceeds goal in new Oxford location

This year’s efforts raised $58,000 and the donation to the American Cancer Society was $55,742.49 after expenses.

Lil Fesperman, who served as event lead, was elated with the results, saying, “We did good. Our goal was $43,000.”

The event, held at Millett Hall for many years, was moved Uptown to try a more visible venue as well as to offer participants more food options and give that business to local merchants. Recent years have seen a decrease in the number of Relay for Life teams taking part and Fesperman said organizers hope to use the more visible Uptown location to lure some back or to find new groups interested in having teams take part.

“We will use Uptown next year as well,” she said. “It was over on Saturday (June 24) and on Monday I was at city offices and said, ‘I want June 23 next year.’ We loved the situation. The walkers and teams loved it as well.”

While the number of teams may have been down, the eight teams taking part were enthusiastic…and successful.

The team from the Oxford Kroger store raised $10,275 of the money total this year and earned special company recognition for the effort.

That amount was not only a store-record amount, it was the most money raised for Relay for Life of any individual store in the whole division, which includes Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky. It was an all-time high amount for all stores in the division, with more than 200 stores included.

The effort brought the vice president of the Cincinnati Division to Oxford recently to congratulate the team and took their photo for the company’s weekly Kroger network. They will also be receiving a special recognition award marking the accomplishment.

Three other teams turned in impressive efforts also, Fesperman said, naming the Butler Rural Electric Cooperative, the Pink Ladies and the Dogs Best Friend teams.

While some snack-type items were available in the park at the event, the move Uptown to be closer to restaurants seemed to be met favorably.

“That was one reason to not allow cooked food and from what I hear, they were pleased. That makes a difference. They got food Uptown,” Fesperman said, praising involvement of Buffalo Wild Wings. “It was nice to have B-Dubs with a wing eating contest with a kids’ contest and an adult contest. Then, they stayed all day and they did not have a team. They just stayed all day and helped.”

There was one glitch, however, and it unfortunately involved the day’s most solemn event—the luminary ceremony after dark when candles are lit in bags with names of people who have lost the battle with cancer. Names of those people are solemnly read as people walk around the area.

“The only issue we had we just could not control. When it got dark, it got windier and the luminaries would not stay lit. We still read the names,” she said. “Next year we will look at using battery candles or glow sticks. It would have been nice to see after dark.”

Also for next year, she said, the committee will look at ways to increase the number of teams participating. She said they will look at possibly encouraging groups to compete in the fundraising, such as various city departments or businesses.

With the number dwindling in recent years, Fesperman acknowledged there is work involved and coordinating the team effort and she hopes to find ways to help.

“Except for the number of teams, the event was spectacular. We want to get more participation and more teams,” she said. “Some of the bigger teams are just too much work. Some (team leaders) want to pass it on but there’s nobody to hand it off to. We want to make it a more city-wide event. We can get creative.”

Registration is already open for 2018, she said.

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