This is Daffodil Days’ last year to bloom.
The American Cancer Society’s annual spring fundraiser, which is listed on its website as one of its “oldest and most beloved fundraising programs,” is being discontinued.
The ACS’s national office decided that the 40-year daffodil campaign was no longer cost effective to continue, explained Brian Gulish, program manager for income communications-sports initiatives for the East Central Division in Pittsburgh.
Instead, the cancer society plans to center its fundraising efforts on its Relay for Life, Making Strides for Breast Cancer and Coaches for Cancer programs.
While Daffodil Days last year raised $17 million across the country, Relay for Life brought in $400 million, Gulish said.
In some areas, the program had been dropped completely so that only 19 states were still holding Daffodil Days. But in other regions, including the 18 counties in Western Pennsylvania, Daffodil Days continues to be a successful fundraiser for the cancer society, raising $1.1 million.
Other areas where the program flowered were the Midwest and New England. Gulish said the success of the fundraiser in these areas was likely due to the popularity of daffodils, a harbinger of spring, during gloomy winter months.
“Obviously there’s disappointment,” Gulish said, noting that the cancer society is 100 years old this year. “We’re not celebrating 100 years but are reflecting on our programs and what we need to do in order to complete the fight against cancer.”
When Daffodil Days first began in Washington County, it was generating a little more than $1,000.
Leslie Harrah, who joined the local unit in 1981, said volunteers helped expand the fundraiser each year by involving more schools, churches and businesses. Last year, Washington County raised $106,000 during Daffodil Days. Harrah retired last year as a regional income development director for ACS.
Gulish said the cancer society is hoping to make this year’s Daffodil Days its most successful ever. This year’s event is set for March 18-23.
Items sold during Daffodil Days include different-sized flower bunches, a Boyd Bear and a flower pot of mini daffodil bulbs. Donors also can designate that their flowers or teddy bear be given to an adult or child in a hospital.
This year’s local Relay for Life events are scheduled for May 3 in Charleroi, May 18 at Chartiers-Houston, April 12 at California University, Aug. 3 in Peters Township, Sept. 25 at Southpointe and June 15 at McGuffey High School.
Gulish said Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the society’s only fundraiser from which the money goes to a specific research project, in this case breast cancer. He also noted that the cancer society invested more than $9 million in research grants at the University of Pittsburgh.