July 4th fireworks, Relay for Life need your help

By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Lincoln residents give generously during the Christmas season to a multitude of area nonprofit organizations. Now, in June, residents are being asked by fellow community members to continue their gift-giving spirit for two different, but equally worthy, causes. The causes are to ensure that the city of Lincoln will have fireworks for the annual Fourth of July festivities and to help the American Cancer Society find a cure for cancer. Both causes impact residents of all ages. While fireworks have been a part of Lincoln’s Fourth of July festivities at McBean Park for decades, the pyrotechnic display is in jeopardy due to impending city budget cuts for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. So Ruth Alves, a Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce director, Fourth of July parade chairwoman and long-time Lincoln resident, is determined to raise $15,000. That’s the amount spent last year on buying the fireworks and providing support staff, heretofore provided by the city of Lincoln, according to Ruth. “It’s tradition. It’s a fabulous fireworks display,” Ruth said. “No pun intended but it’s always been a bang-up job.” Last year’s Fourth of July fireworks at McBean Park attracted the biggest crowd ever at between 5,000 to 7,000 spectators, according to Ruth. “I’ve talked to a lot of longtime Lincoln natives who said Lincoln always had fireworks. In the past, individuals and groups had raised money for the fireworks,” Ruth said. “It’s such a great event, it’s free, it’s the premiere event of the year. It’s the largest event. Not only do Lincoln residents come out to enjoy the fireworks but so do people from surrounding communities.” As of press time, Ruth has raised about $11,000. The biggest donor so far is Sutter Roseville Medical Center at $5,000. While Ruth is grateful for the hospital’s gift, she also appreciates community members donating whatever they can. “This is what America is, the day we celebrate our independence, our nation’s birthday,” Ruth said. “There are so many worthwhile things to donate to but this is the day we celebrate our freedom. The way our world is today, we need to hold onto it. Lincoln has 40,000 people. If everybody gave a quarter a person, we’d be there.” Also affecting every resident, whether it’s someone they know – maybe a friend, family member or even themselves – is cancer. While the annual 24-hour Relay for Life was held from May 15 to May 16 at Lincoln High School, residents can still donate to Relay For Life of Lincoln. Aug. 31 is the deadline for donating to Lincoln’s 2010 relay. The relay is conducted in 5,040 cities in the United States and 1,000 cities abroad. Last year, $385 million was brought in from throughout the world, according to an American Cancer Society spokeswoman. Since Lincoln’s Relay For Life started five years ago, $427,000 has been raised locally. So far, Lincoln’s Relay For Life this year has raised $94,000, according to Relay for Life volunteers. They want to hit the $100,000 mark by Aug. 31. “The Lincoln Relay For Life is a wonderful event, especially to those of us who are cancer survivors,” said Cheryl Karleskint, a Lincoln resident. Cheryl and her husband, Dan Karleskint, co-chaired Lincoln’s kickoff rally this year. “The support of the Lincoln community continues to amaze me,” Cheryl said. “When I was talking to the merchants to get support for the rally, they all asked, ‘what else can we do?’ It amazed me, especially in this economic climate. ” Why should residents donate to Relay for Life this year, if they haven’t already? “The Relay for Life is a local community event. The funds then go to American Cancer Society to support their programs, which are really great,” Cheryl said. “You can have a makeover after your surgery and cancer treatment; there are all kinds of cancer programs for cancer patients and their caregivers. It also funds research.” One of the main reasons Cheryl walks each year in the event is to help earn money for research. “I’m hearing more and more of the younger people, like my daughter’s friends, are being diagnosed with breast cancer. There are so many other cancers affecting the younger generation,” Cheryl said. “I dedicated this year’s walk to my daughter’s sister-in-law. She’s 32 and one year free from lymphoma. If it wasn’t for the research, she probably wouldn’t have survived.” Fourth of July fireworks and cancer programs/research are unrelated subjects. All Lincoln residents, however, can play an important part in making sure these worthy causes are supported locally.