The local American Cancer Society Relay for Life is at Sequoyah High School and offers all residents of the community a chance to come together for a single great cause — fighting cancer.
“Surf’s Up, It is Time to Wipe out Cancer” is this year’s theme. So far about $181,000 has been collected and the rest is expected to come is as part of the event.
The Relay begins with the Opening Ceremony at 6 p.m., which brings everyone together for a high-energy kickoff to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, to inspire hope by sharing recent accomplishments and progress, and to remind everyone that fighting cancer is a year-round priority.
The Survivor Lap is at 6:45 p.m., when all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track cheered on by the other participants who line the track, celebrating their victory over cancer.
At 10 p.m., the Luminaria Ceremony is a time for those in attendance to remember people who have lost their lives to cancer, to support those who have cancer, and to honor those who have fought cancer in the past.
The Closing Ceremony is at 7 a.m. and is a time to remember the lives of those lost and to celebrate the victories and the successes in the battle against cancer.
For Butch Lawson, a four-year cancer survivor and member of the organizing committee, the Relay for Life offers even more.
“The American Cancer Society Relay For Life program is about so much more than just walking around a track overnight,” Lawson said in a release. “At Relay for Life events, we celebrate loved ones who have won their battle against cancer, remember those who are no longer with us, and fight back against this disease that takes so much from so many.”
In addition to funding lifesaving research, every dollar raised helps the American Cancer Society provide services to cancer patients in need, like providing rides to treatment for those who don’t have transportation of their own, Lawson said.
“This year I’m celebrating my fourth survivor birthday and like most of us, I know too many people whose lives have been touched by cancer. That’s why I’ve joined with the American Cancer Society to help save lives by participating in a Relay For Life event,” Lawson said.
Robert Sprague, a Canton resident and cancer survivor who serves as marketing volunteer chairman for the local events, sees businesses and the local school system as two keys to the success of the event.
“I am a cancer survivor diagnosed in 2010, and I went to my first Relay before I even knew what it was about,” Sprague said of his involvement. “That is what motivates a lot of the volunteers, that they have a loved one who has had cancer or are a survivor themselves.”
On Monday night, team leaders came in to turn in cash and checks already collected and turned over about $43,000 in just the one night. Another $138,000 has already come in.
“We are optimistic that the rest will come in, people set up booths and do fundraising right on the spot. The bank opens at about 7 p.m. The final conclusion won’t take place until August, and it all adds up over time,” Sprague said.
Co-chairs for this year’s event are Minah Yacher and Courtney Shaw.
Principle sponsor is Northside Hospital-Cherokee.
The ACS Relay for Life was started by a single dedicated physician in 1985 that quietly walked around a high school track for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research. It has grown nationwide to over 5,000 events with more than 300,000 participants.
For more information, visit relayforlife.org.