Trading tax preparation for contributions to fight cancer has worked well for David Lauer and his Relay for Life team.
The six members of Emily’s Sunshine Gang had donations of $19,147 by Saturday for the annual American Cancer Society fundraiser in Kenosha, the largest amount from the 95 teams participating this year.
The total also was a record for Lauer’s group, by some $4,000, since he joined the effort about a decade ago.
The team’s name honors Lauer’s daughter, who died of ovarian cancer in 2003 at age 24.
Lauer, the Sunshine Gang’s captain, expected their contribution total could reach $25,000 if calendar sales go well during a local celebration of Harley Davidson’s 110th anniversary at Uke’s, 5999 120th Ave., from Aug. 27 to Sept. 1. The team will offer the calendars, which feature photos taken in Kenosha of cancer survivors with motorcycles built by the Wisconsin manufacturer, for a $10 donation.
The Tyler’s Crusaders team placed second on Saturday with $16,200 in donations, and Johnson Bank Dream Team had $14,001.
The Relay raised $306,102 from 95 teams and their 1,000-plus participants, said Rael Szulc, event co-chair. That’s closer to the goal — $315,000 for this year — than usual, she said.
“I think we can get there,” she told participants at the conclusion of the event Saturday morning at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside track. “Now’s not the time to rest. We’re determined to make this cancer’s last century.”
The turnout and amount raised was “amazing,” Szulc said later. “We’ve had wonderful support from the community, which didn’t hesitate to spend their money here. We had past teams come back and raise more this year, and we had new teams that brought in donations.”
Besides thinking about Emily, Lauer was considering 2014 just minutes after the announcement on Saturday that the Sunshine Gang was first in donations so far for this year.
“That means we have to do better next year,” he said.
Lauer, a retired certified public accountant, said his clients spread the word that he was willing to prepare income tax forms for free if customers would write checks to the ACS. He asks for a minimum contribution of $75, but he’s seen donations as much as $600.
As exhilarating as raising that kind of money might be, there’s always the hurt of the death of a child beneath it all. “Losing a child is horrible,” Lauer said.“Every day can be up and down. There’s happiness and there’s tears, and even after 10 years, the tears flow.”
Raising cash can change things, he suggested: “I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. ”