Most people have been touched by cancer during their lives; a mother, father, cousin, sister, great aunt. Relay from Life is an event that has been taking place at the L.C. Bird High School’s outdoor track for 12 years. The purpose is to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
According to Sharon Pierce, Committee Volunteer for the event, “All donations are received by the American Cancer Society. Donations are used for research, programs and services, and educational information to cancer survivors and their families.”
Since 2008 there have been about 25 advances in cancer research, but there are over 157, plus 100s of subcategories, of cancer in existence.
Those who enter the Relay for Life put together teams, most with funny names like the Chunky Monkeys and Hope with Hening Hornets. The teams set goals to raise as much money as they can. The Hope with Hening Hornets team captain, Colin Wharton, has raised the most money for the Relay so far this year, $11,397.79, according to their website.
Hening Elementary School Assistant Principal, Bill Caten, didn’t mind getting pie-in-the-face. “It’s for a good cause,” Caten said. “I’ve been dunked and a lot of other various things. I will do whatever it takes to help motivate kids.” He said the Relay is well worth it.
“The teams set a goal depending on the number of people on their team,” Pierce said. “They have fundraisers as a team to assist in meeting their own goals. This year the teams were challenged to raise $212 per team member.”
Pierce said that she has organized the event or been on the planning committee in some manner since 2002 and has been committee chair in 2003 and 2004.
The Relay has a goal of $80,000 this year and teams can still register online. In fact teams can register right up to the evening before the event, which begins on June 2, if they register online. Donations can be handled by credit card on the Relay website until August 31 of this year.
It’s not all about raising money and mourning those who have or have had cancer. The Relay of Life is a celebration of life, those who have endured, survived and had the courage to see it through to the end. “You feel all emotions if you are there for all of the ceremonies - Celebrate/Remember/Fight Back,” said Pierce. The luminaria ceremony is a powerful time for everyone to either honor or remember a loved one with a candle lit inside of a white bag with their name on it.
“To see the entire track lined with these glowing bags is something you need to see in person,” Pierce said.
“We have a full schedule of entertainment and activities planned,” Pierce said. “The schedule can be found on the website under the section: Forms.”
Since many of the teams stay all night there are concessions for food. Each team will have some form of fundraising activity in their campsites and many will have food as their fundraiser.
“Volunteers are needed to make the event happen,” Pierce said. “They assist in the organization and planning which actually begins after the present event ends. Recruitment of volunteers is necessary to assist in all phases of the event planning. The planning committee consists of approximately 20 key volunteers who chair individual areas of the planning.”
Pierce says that volunteers for the organization also give their time to other programs and services. Road to Recovery is a program where volunteers drive patients who need assistance with a ride to their treatment/doctor appointments, others are licensed cosmetologists who present the program “Look Good Feel Better” to female cancer patients who are currently in treatment.