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A Conversation With … Brian Wilfong

Community development manager for American Cancer Society of Southwest Missouri

Posted online

American Cancer Society made some big changes to Relay For Life in 2017, primarily from an overnight to an evening event. What spurred that decision?
In Springfield, in 2015, we had about 800 participants and approximately 300 in 2016 and 2017. We’re seeing the younger generations who have younger kids do not want to stay all night. We are looking at how we can best fit their needs and their time schedule. We don’t know if (decreasing participation) was because of the night thing or just life in general. We moved from Hillcrest High School to Jordan Valley Park. Teams loved the atmosphere. We added fireworks. We brought in more live music. The 2018 event will be at Jordan Valley Park, June 16.

I think we had a little over 120 teams last year. Some teams could have one person; some could have 10 people.

Nearing the end of the year, what is the fundraising tally? And what’s your goal for 2018?
We’re still working on that for 2018. For 2017, it’s close to $500,000. We have a Cattle Baron’s Ball, which is a gala event where people can dress up in their cowboy attire. Then we have the Making Strides event that happens every October, specific for breast cancer research. This year, we’ll get close to $150,000 for fundraising from that event. The Cattle Baron’s Ball was $250,000-$300,000, and then you’ve got the Springfield Relay, which was just shy of $100,000.

Are you planning new events for 2018?
We’re looking at maybe a balloon glow and a shooting clays event. In addition, we are looking at adding a golf tournament and bringing back Daffodil Days.

How has the ACS “FUNdraising” app changed event financial goals?
It links them to the event they’re registered for. They can send emails and texts through that app to ask for donations, but also if they’re out and about doing a fundraiser for their team, they can take credit card transactions or a picture of a check. They’re catching on to it even though it’s a couple years old.

What is ACS currently working on in legislation?
Missouri does a Show Me Healthy Women program for uninsured or underinsured women to get mammograms and (such) for free. That was one thing that our people who work with legislators helped pass and work to continue having that in the Missouri budget. They’re also working on tanning legislation – opening their eyes to that fact that tanning in general is bad and making sure that those under 18 definitely can’t go to a tanning bed or have to have parents sign before going.

What is ACS currently researching?
(E-cigarettes) are something we’re looking into because there isn’t much research on e-cigarettes and what goes into the chemicals. We’re trying to educate people that is still not the right answer to being able to stop smoking.

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