Runners for Life
Once a year, they read out loud the names of those loved-ones they have lost and those who are battling terminally threatening disease: a father, a daughter, a neighbor, an aunt. For Ben Creech, it is an emotional moment. He empathizes with the family members and hopes that his efforts will mean fewer victims in the future, even if it's just one less name read during the hour of remembrance.
Ben Creech and the volunteer WACKER team from Adrian, (Michigan, USA) have collected over 100,000 dollars in donations for cancer research.
The name of the demon that Creech is battling is cancer. The marketing manager heads up the volunteer team that collects donations for cancer aid at the Wacker Chemical Corporation in Adrian, Michigan. This program, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is called “Relay for Life” and was founded by surgeon Gordon Klatt in 1985 to raise funds for cancer research.
“WACKER employees and the local community are very generous with their donations,” says the 33-year old, “After all, everyone knows someone who has cancer.” This disease is dealt with very openly in the USA. In Creech's case, it is his wife's family that has been affected.
Creech and the “Relay” team – around 15 WACKER colleagues – work year round to raise donations. There is the chili cook-off during which they sell homemade chili to colleagues as an inexpensive lunch alternative. This past year, they held a prize drawing with the winner taking home an iPad. They also sell flowers on Mother's Day to raise funds.
The biggest event is the “Relay” held at the Adrian High School running track. People from all over the area travel to take part in it. The “Relay” is a 24-hour fund-raising event with hundreds of supporters cheering the people on. It is traditionally held in August when it is warm enough for teams to camp. The team members take turns running, walking and resting. During the “Relay”, an illumination ceremony is held during which participants light candles and remember the loved ones who have battled cancer.
The WACKER Relay for Life group in Adrian has raised more than $100,000 over the years. Creech began volunteering for the program when he joined WACKER as a marketing analyst for Division Polymers in 2005. It was his first job after graduating from college. In the meantime, he has coordinated the “Relay for Life” team on a voluntary basis for the last five years, but with professional planning and task delegation. He rejects praise: it is his colleagues who do most of the work. Nevertheless, he admits that he is “a hands-on person.”
During the 2013 relay, WACKER was the most successful local area team, raising more than $12,000 in donations. Creech hopes it will be even more this year. He has a good idea how to make this happen, too: if WACKER raised the stakes by offering a flight to Munich as the giveaway for the annual prize drawing, then, Creech believes, they would sell tickets like crazy because: “doesn't everyone want to go to Germany?” His bold idea once again demonstrates a talent for creative fundraising.