By Kevin Kelley
Tara Pierce just might be the ideal captain for a Relay For Life team.
Before this year, the Fairview Park woman had never participated in Relay, the American Cancer Society fundraiser in which teams of people take turns walking or running around a track to raise money from sponsors for cancer research.
“I really didn’t know much about it,” she said of Relay For Life.
But just over a year ago, Tara’s father, Dean Noonan, was diagnosed with bladder cancer on his 72nd birthday.
Less than four months later, the Bay Village resident died from the disease.
“Dad kept his spirits up as much as possible during those few months,” Tara wrote on her Relay For Life page. “He did not want others to see/know how terrified he was.”
After her father’s death, Tara wanted to do something to keep his memory alive.
“My dad was my best friend,” Tara said. “I miss him every day.”
She e-mailed the American Cancer Society, which suggested getting involved in Relay For Life.
And get involved she did. She was one of three top committee members who planned the Fairview Park Relay For Life, which took place Saturday and Sunday at the city-owned athletic field at Fairview High School.
Team Dean, named after Tara’s father, easily reached its fundraising goal of $2,500 even before last weekend’s event. As of Saturday morning, the team had raised $4,400, according to its Relay Web page. Tara herself raised more than $2,000 of that.
What’s her secret?
“I don’t have a secret,” she told West Life. “I have a great support system.”
Much of the money the 17 members of Team Dean raised came from a fundraiser at Aces restaurant in the spring. At Relay, the team sponsored the popular bounce house, which children could play in for a donation, and offered golf lessons for donations.
As of Sunday, Team Dean had raised $5,612, according to the Fairview Relay Web page.
Donations can still be made online to Team Dean or any of the other seven teams that participated in the Fairview Park Relay For Life at relay.org/fairviewpark/.