Relay For Life events of Okaloosa County ranked No. 1 in nation

Special to The Log
The Emerald Coast Unit of the American Cancer Society gave awards to Okaloosa County Relay for Life volunteers for achieving the #1 ranking in the nation for funds raised on a per capita basis. (L-R) Suzie O'Neill (FWB Relay); Krystal Jackson and Tracy Ward (Crestview Relay); Cal Brooks, Panhandle Area ACS Executive Director; Shelly Miller, Emerald Coast ACS Unit Board Chair; Trevia Bruckner and Jean Grieve (Destin Relay), and Andrea Oliver, Scott Page (Niceville).

Last spring, volunteers and staff from the Emerald Coast Unit of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Northwest Florida held four Relay For Life events in Okaloosa County raising an astounding $524,560. This earned them the noteworthy title of becoming the No. 1 per capita for Relay For Life in the nation for funds raised. The Relay For Life events were held in Fort Walton Beach, Crestview, Niceville and Destin.

“Considering Relay For Life events are held in 50 states and more than 20 countries around the globe, this is such an amazing accomplishment for our relatively small population,” commented Cal Brooks, the Panhandle Area Executive Director for the American Cancer Society. “The strength and sheer dedication of our volunteers and staff made this possible.”

Relays For Life are the American Cancer Society’s signature event that honors cancer survivors, remembers those who have lost their battle, and offers a night and day for the community to gather by fighting back and raising funds for research, patient services and patient advocacy programs.

Teams of friends, family and co-workers camp out at their local high schools or fairgrounds and take turns walking or running around a track because cancer never sleeps and for one night, neither do the Relayers.

For raising over half a million dollars, congratulations go to the chairs and their volunteers. Susan O’Neil, chaired the Fort Walton Beach Relay raising $211,050; Krystal Jackson, chaired the Crestview Relay raising $150,361; Niceville was chaired by Dr. Ralf Zapata, raising $121,696; and Trevia Buckner chaired Destin, raising $41,451 for a grand total of $524,560.

The Emerald Coast Unit of the American Cancer Society operates with more than 700 volunteers in Okaloosa, Walton and Holmes counties with the support of 5 staff members.

For further information on the American Cancer Society and its variety of patient service and fundraising events available in your area, please call 1-800-227-2345 or visit

This year’s relay in Destin begins May 10 at 6 p.m. at Morgan Sports Center.