JERSEY SHORE - "Everyone knows someone affected by cancer," Marissa Neese, Tangled for a Cure Relay For Life team co-captain, said. "We wanted to raise awareness and have a fun time doing it."
Neese, a sophomore at Jersey Shore Area High School, has been working since the fall with her team that consists of 10 students and six parents.
"My grandfather Jim Stroud was recently diagnosed with cancer," Neese said. "He is currently going through chemotherapy and though I have many relatives that have had cancer, this year I will be thinking of him as I walk the track and raise money to help support those fighting cancer, like him."
PHOTOS PROVIDED/RASHELLE CAREY/Sun-Gazette
Shown at top are members of the Tangled for a Cure Relay team at the Bark For Life event in Jersey Shore. Above left are team members with donation buckets collecting money for their team and above right are team members at a car wash fundraiser.
Like the American Cancer Society's motto, she said her team just wants to help "create more birthdays."
This is the team's second year, but Neese's first year as captain. She shares the responsibilities with Derrick Palski, another sophomore at Jersey Shore.
Neese, along with her mother, have been involved with Relay For Life much longer than that.
"We enjoy doing things to help others," Neese said. "I have been doing Relay since I was very young. My mom has always participated on a team, so the Relay is just what we do."
The Tangled team was the first to register online and have raised more than half of their $2,000 goal.
What helped them raise the total of $1,422.79 so far was a jam-packed weekend from April 19 to 21. At a Jersey Shore Community Day on April 19, they accepted donations at both Jersey Shore State Banks and Jiffy Mart, making $273.
On April 20, they had a car wash at Buttorff's Hardware and raised $152.
Their final fundraiser for the long weekend was a table at the Bark For Life event on April 21, where they raised $110. That money came from raffling a dog basket and selling water and snacks.
"We chose these activities to hopefully get our community involved and remind them about the upcoming Relay," Buffy said.
They also raised money by having a raffle, a soup sale, a bake sale, a magazine sale, a Pink Out Day and online donations.
The team has surpassed last year's total amount raised by more than $600 even before this year's Relay For Life event, which will be held May 10 and 11.
At the Relay For Life, they'll have a movie night basket, a Hershey Park ticket basket and face painting, as well as a fruit buffet to offer healthy food to walkers so they can grab a cup, fill it with fruit and continue walking.
"We are excited to meet our goal and raise money for a good cause and, of course, we always enjoy a night hanging out together," Neese said.
Their team name, also known as Tangled in a Cure, is a reference to the 2010 Disney movie Tangled about Rapunzel.
One of the most challenging parts of having a team of mostly sophomores is finding time to get together around everyone's sports and activities, Neese said. However, with the use of Facebook, monthly meetings at team members' houses and school meetings, they find a way to make it work.