City Staff, Elected Officials, Show Community Spirit at Relay For Life

City Staff, Elected Officials, Show Community Spirit at Relay For Life

Gulfport Police Lieutenant Josh Stone tries – and fails – to Hula hoop out of getting a pie in his face.

If you didn’t want a pie in your face, you had to hula hoop your way out of it. Couldn’t hula hoop? You could buy your way out, too. That was the deal Gulfport city staff cooked up to raise money for the city Relay For Life Team, the Superstars.

 Relay For Life, which took place Friday night, benefitted the American Cancer Society. The proceeds will fund cancer research and assist people undergoing treatment for cancer. Relay teams raised money and pledged to walk all night; teams set up camp in the middle of the track. The event started with a “survivor lap” where cancer survivors and their caregivers kicked off the event by taking the first lap.

 Friday night’s relay started strong with teams – including the top-fundraising team, Stetson Law Faculty (total raised, $4,135) – setting up camp and holding fundraising events. Gulfport city staff held a silent auction and sold pies to throw at notable city employees, such as City Manager Jim O’Reilly, Human Resources Officer Mercedes Perez, Officer Jennifer Crowson, Lieutenant Joshua Stone, Mayor Sam Henderson, and Ward Four Councilman Michael Fridovich.

The pie contest raised $175. City staff also had a bake sale and a silent auction; all told, according to Mr. Shea, city staff raised over $1,300. All city staff volunteered their time.

 “It was awesome. I had a blast, my family had a blast. I looked around and there were smiling faces,” Gulfport Technical Events Specialist Justin Shea said. “It’s a family atmosphere, it’s a grassroots feel.”

 An early morning thunderstorm emptied the field. Mayor Henderson and his daughter Brenna woke to find the field empty.

 “When I woke up at 7 a.m. to do my coffee run for the group, I looked outside to find that everyone had abandoned the relay except for me and my daughter Brenna,” Mayor Henderson said. “There were chairs and equipment scattered about, partially disassembled canopies, but no people. I greeted a few people who came out to participate in what were to be the final laps of the morning, but all of our overnighters were gone. Brenna and I are proud to be the lone holdouts finishing the relay, and doing the last lap on our own. We had a great time, and look forward to doing it again next year.”

 At press time, the 14 teams at the Gulfport Relay For Life had raised over $12,000.