2006-05-19 / Front Page

Team plans to be on call, on the track

BY BILL GILMAN CHAMPION EDITOR

Always on Call team members Virginia Obara, Carol Kennedy and Diana Bilodeau are selling tickets to a silent raffle to raise money for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. CHAMPION PHOTO/BILL GILMAN Always on Call team members Virginia Obara, Carol Kennedy and Diana Bilodeau are selling tickets to a silent raffle to raise money for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. CHAMPION PHOTO/BILL GILMAN Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles on the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life program and the Leominster-based teams participating in the events.

You won't hear the piercing sound of an air wrench or welding torch. But rest assured, there is a car being constructed in a back room at the Central Street offices of Always on Call Health Services.

The "vehicle" in question is a fully tricked-out cardboard convertible set to circle the track for the first (and very likely the last) time at the American Cancer Society's Greater Gardner Relay for Life on June 9 at Mount Wachusett Community College.

"The theme [for that hour] is 'cruising for a cure,'" said Virginia Obara, Always On Call owner. "The team's can build a car and take it around the track, then all the cars will be judged and they'll give out prizes."

Theme hours are a tradition at the Relay for Life events, 24-hour walk-a-thons that raise millions of dollars for cancer research and patient services every year. Themes include such favorites as "Beach Party," "Christmas at Relay," "Hats," "Halloween" and "Sports" and "Superheroes."

"Cruisin'" is a new theme hour this year and the Always on Call team is jumping in with both bumpers.

"Carol [Kennedy], our scheduling manager, is really the one doing most of the work on the car," said Obara. "She designed it and is building it. She's put a lot of work into it, it's going to look great."

Always On Call, which opened it doors in 1999, provides supplemental health care staffing for both residential facilities, as well as for individuals in private residences. Their roster includes registered nurses and licensed practical nurses, as well as nurse's aides and home healthcare aides.

This will be the sixth year that Obara's squad is walking in the Greater Gardner Relay, an event that will attract more than 160 teams and an estimated 5,000 walkers. They began participating a year after the company was launched. Obara sees her company's involvement as an extension of its day-to-day mission.

"We're very hands-on, giving hospicetype care," she said. "This is another way to help. It's a fun event and it's for a good cause. We raise some money and hopefully raise awareness."

Obara, Kennedy and Administrative Assistant Diana Bilodeau anchor the team, which also includes on-call staffers, family members and friends.

In each of their first five years walking in the relay, the members of the Always On Call team limited their fund-raising to d o n a t i o n s and pledges, raising several hundred dollars each year.

However, the team has expanded its horizons in 2006 and, as a result, has increased donation revenues significantly.

Visitors to the company's offices at 285 Central St., Suite 214, can purchase tickets for a silent raffle featuring dozens of prizes. The drawings will take place on June 2. The team is also selling flowertop pens for $1 each. The pens will also be made available for sale at the Relay for Life itself.

In addition, Always On Call will be hosting its second bake sale of the campaign on Friday, May 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from all of the fund-raisers will go to the Relay for Life.

"It's been going really well so far," said Obara. "We've sold a lot of [raffle] tickets and the pens have been really popular."

For more information on the American Cancer Society Greater Gardner Relay for Life, call Kelly Lane at (978) 534-5848. For information regarding the Always On Call fund-raising events or to sponsor a walker, call (978) 537-9900.

Return to top