The cancer-fighting group's 2013 campaign includes a monthly Bunco night, a softball tournament, and a special event next month featuring the "Catfish King," Marion Kincaid, star of the popular National Geographic TV show, "Mudcats."
On the third Monday of each month, a Bunco night will be held at Holmtown Pub, 206 N. National Ave., which is donating use of the establishment for the monthly fundraiser. The game involves teams rolling dice over several rounds, trying to get to 21 each round and win the most rounds.
Bourbon County Relay for Life Accounting Chairwoman Gina Findley said about 20 people attended a Bunco night held locally a couple of months ago, so the Relay group is using the popular dice game as the basis for a fundraiser.
The suggested donation to play the game is $5, Findley said.
Two fundraisers are scheduled to take place March 23; a co-ed softball tournament scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at Ellis Park, and a visit from Kincaid, who will be selling and signing merchandise and autographs during an event scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 4-H Building on the Bourbon County Fairgrounds.
Kincaid stars on the show "Mudcats," which is centered around noodling, or hand fishing. He is related to local Relayer Schery Rupprecht, who is on the Fort Scott Community College team that is organizing the event.
"He's big in the noodling and fishing world," Findley said.
There will also be a petting zoo, face painting, kids games, and several "family-friendly" activities such as a roach race, worm toss, hand fishing, and others. A concession stand including hot dogs and Sloppy Joes will be available.
"Hopefully, it will be a fun day for the kids, too," Findley said.
The softball tournament is a group fundraiser organized by Relay member Tricia Heckadon-Daniels. Teams will be assembled and pay entry fees, with proceeds going toward Relay for Life.
"There are a lot of people looking for softball tourneys to play in," Findley said, adding the tournament is drawing players from the Kansas City area and other towns.
The Relay for Life events raise money for the American Cancer Society and its many services, which include education, advocacy and support groups.
This year's local event, with a theme of "Lights, Camera, Take Action: Come Walk the Purple Carpet With Us," will be held from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. June 14 at the Fort Scott Community College walking track. Last year's campaign, chaired by Bailey Lyons, raised more than $61,000, far surpassing organizers' goal of $50,000. The event drew 22 teams and 500 participants.
"We actually qualified last year with the Kansas Relay for Life as a 5-Star Relay," Findley said.
This distinction means the Bourbon County Relay chapter was among other chapters that increased the number of participants, cancer survivors and money raised last year and also followed "the standards they (Kansas Relay for Life) provide," Findley said.
This year, organizers have upped goals once again and hope to recruit 40 teams, raise $60,000 and draw 600 participants.
"Hopefully, the weather is like last year; it was really nice," Findley said.
Lyons took over chairing last year's campaign with a goal of revitalizing the event and boosting interest, attendance and participation after numbers in each of those areas had been dwindling in recent years.
The 2011 campaign brought in a little less than $24,000 with 14 teams and drew about 150 participants. Findley said the efforts of Lyons and others paid off as figures in each of those areas jumped considerably in 2012.
"I think people had been burned out," she said. "We got some new people in there. It was the momentum of it. People were doing it for the right reasons ... you have to have people in there willing to make changes. Visibility is much better."
Findley said about 200 people stayed throughout the night last year, which also was an increase from 2011. A total of about 1,000 people -- including participants, survivors, caregivers and spectators -- attended last year's event.
"There's a whole cancer community in Fort Scott," she said.
The 2013 campaign kicked off last month with an event at Holmtown Pub.