Stephanie Sauers-Boyd and her family has either been involved with or supported the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event since 2000.
This was the year her mother, Janice Sauers, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“After she was diagnosed, one of our friends and neighbor told us about the Relay for Life event,” Sauers Boyd recalled.
According to Sauers-Boyd, she and her family were not previously aware of the Relay for Life event, but after speaking with their neighbor, Sauers-Boyd knew her family had to get involved.
The Relay For Life is a national event sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS). According to the Relay For Life website, the event is both a cancer awareness campaign and fundraiser for ACS research. Relay For Life occurs during the day and overnight, typically at a local high school track, where teams camp out and take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event.
The event as a whole takes on a celebratory atmosphere, as hundreds of people band together in support of the same cause. There are also solemn and inspiring moments all throughout, including the Survivors Lap and the Luminaria Ceremony, in which participants walk around the entire track in silence, passing by candle-lit bags, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer.
Princesses Rule Out Cancer
As a 2006 Upper Moreland High School graduate, Sauers Boyd was in middle school when she first helped form a Relay For Life team, named “Princesses Rule Out Cancer.”
“We had a Disney theme at our campsite,” Sauers-Boyd said.
The team was made up of her family members and closest friends throughout middle and high schools. During the Relay For Life events they participated in, Sauers-Boyd said her team was able to consistently raise at least $1,000.
She also recalled very emotional moments, such as being able to walk in the front of the line with her mother, during the Survivors Lap.
“It was very special,” Sauers-Boyd said. “It felt really cool to be a part of that experience.”
Janice Sauers, who was with Sauers-Boyd during her interview with Patch, recalled a similar experience.
“To see everybody supporting the cause, gives you chills,” she said, adding with a smile, “Good chills.”
Sauers said she was impressed by the diversity of the hundreds of people at the Relay For Life events, each one supporting or honoring the memory of those touched by cancer, or, like herself, are cancer survivors.
“You just think to yourself, ‘Thank God I’m a survivor,’” Sauers said. “I think it’s such a good cause and it helped me.”
Team Sauers Tree and Landscape Service
After graduation, Sauers-Boyd took a three-year hiatus from Relay For Life. She, along with her brother Mike Sauers, became co-owners of the family-run business Sauers Tree and Landscape Service.
While the business started in Upper Moreland in 1997, it has since moved its headquarters to Dresher and now serves clients throughout Eastern Montgomery County.
By 2009, Sauers-Boyd, who also serves as president of Sauers Tree and Landscape Service, was looking for community outreach opportunities.
When she returned to the Eastern Montgomery County Relay For Life event as a guest that year, she again knew her family had to get involved.
“What better charity to support than Relay For Life?” Sauers-Boyd asked.
The following year, Relay For Life team Sauers Tree and Landscape Services was formed, mostly consisting of family members.
Also in 2010, team Sauers Tree and Landscape Services started its major fundraising event, “Strike Out Cancer,” which takes place at the Brunswick Zone in Feasterville.
This event has increased in popularity over the years, raising over $800 in 2010, $3,034 in 2011 and $5,500 in 2012.
In addition to the Strike Out Cancer event, this year, team Sauers Tree and Landscape Service has collected $1 from every invoice for Relay For Life, decorated a company truck to promote the local Relay For Life event in the Hatboro Holiday parade, as well as donate a $50 gift card for company services to all survivors at this year’s event.
In total, team Sauers Tree and Landscape Service was able to donate an $8,000 check to the ACS at this year’s Eastern Montgomery County Relay For Life Event.
2012 Eastern Montgomery County Relay For Life
Sauers-Boyd has also been more active in the planning of the local relay for life event, serving as a committee chair in 2011 and then as co-chair of the entire event in 2012, which took place June 15 - 16.
“It’s pretty amazing what 12 to 13 people can accomplish,” Sauers-Boyd said of the core Relay For Life committee members. “There’s tons of planning, tons of encouraging, tons of time and energy given throughout the entire event.”
According to a Patch report on the event, over 500 people attended this year’s event, including 77 cancer survivors, whose combined effort was able to raise more than $137,000.
When Sauers-Boyd was first involved with Relay For Life, the local event was held at the Upper Moreland High School track. In more recent years, the event has moved to Hatboro-Horsham High School.
She said that planning the event was a monumental task, which the core-committee prepared for the entire year. This year, Sauers-Boyd also took on a mentoring role with Hatboro-Horsham High School senior Ashley Rossi, who volunteered with the Relay For Life event, and whose team helped raise $6,000.
While Sauers-Boyd said she is unsure of her role with Relay For Life next year, she is certain that her family will continue to support the life-affirming event for years to come.
“You definitely got to give it a try and get out there,” Sauers-Boyd said. “It’s an unforgettable experience that brings hope and support for so many different people.”
The next team Sauers Tree and Landscape Service "Strike Out Cancer" fundraising event is scheduled for May 11, 2013. For more information, contact Stephanie Sauers-Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-659-1613, ext. 103.