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Main Street Martinsburg, Relay for Life organizers Paint the Town Purple

High-heel race to cap weeklong awareness event to raise money for American Cancer Society

February 19, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Main Street Martinsburg is teaming up with organizers of Relay for Life to launch a "high heel" kickoff event for the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser this year.

The first Paint the Town Purple weeklong awareness event from April 3 to 9 will be capped off with a purple, high-heel race on Queen Street with Relay for Life participants, officials announced recently.

Martinsburg City Council earlier this month approved Main Street's plan to close the 100 block of North Queen Street for the race between noon and 2 p.m., Main Street Martinsburg executive director Randy Lewis said.

Relay for Life involves teams of people who camp out at a local high school, park or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path as part of awareness and fundraising efforts.

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States and communities in 20 other countries now take part each year.

Barb Henry, community manager for American Cancer Society in Berkeley and Jefferson County, said participants last year raised nearly $500,000. Berkeley County's event at Martinsburg High School will begin June 4. Jefferson County's event will begin June 24, and Shepherd University will hold its event April 15.

With the new Main Street partnership, Henry said both organizations should benefit from the joint promotional and fundraising effort.

"We're real excited to be partnering with Main Street Martinsburg on this," Henry said.

Paint the Town Purple in celebration of Relay for Life is expected to involve flowers turning shades of purple for the week, purple window displays, purple balloons and ribbons on parking meters, and landmarks turned purple, according to Main Street officials.

For last year's efforts, Berkeley County school officials were recognized for being one of only three school districts statewide to have 100 percent participation and raised more than $70,000, according to Henry.

Burke Street School was individually recognized for raising the highest amount of money per capita, which Henry said amounted to a little more than $20 per student or staff member.

Last fall, Superintendent Manny P. Arvon received the state Relay for Life Superintendent of the Year Award for championing the event, notching three consecutive years of 100 percent participation by the school district. The school district has received a glass plate for the achievement each year.

"We have a collection going," Arvon said after sharing with school board members this month that Martinsburg High School's baseball team received the outstanding student leadership award for their efforts to raise money through the Strikeout for Cancer event.

The event raised more than $14,000 last year, according to Henry. Trey Arvon was recognized for his involvement with the baseball team's event, Henry said.

In Jefferson County, volunteer Jon Jack was recognized for his communications efforts.

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