By MARY RAINWATER
The biggest cancer fighting event in Anderson County, Relay for Life, is already in the works and event organizers have announced the first related event of 2013 — the Kick-off Rally.
The event will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ben E. Keith Community Room, located on West Oak St. in Palestine.
It allows locals to register as a cancer survivor, caregiver, volunteer, underwriter/sponsor or to join a team or sign up a team.
“It is a great way to start the new year,” Anderson County Relay for Life committee member Mary Kolstad said. “We want everyone to join us at the rally.”
The main Relay for Life event, scheduled to take place May 3-4 at the Westwood High School Panther Stadium, is a team event in which walkers compete in friendly competition to raise the most money from fundraising events all year around.
On event night, one member of the team is on the track at all times.
“Relay For Life is a celebration — a unique, challenging and fun way to raise community awareness and to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Kolstad said. “The signature event for the American Cancer Society, Relay is more than just a fundraiser. It brings together families and friends to celebrate those who have survived cancer and to remember those who have not.”
Relay for Life Teams consist of 15 people representing various businesses, civic groups, social organizations, church groups, friends and families. While the Relay For Life is in progress, a community party atmosphere is created in tent city with entertainment, food, games and camaraderie.
Cancer survivors kick off the event with a “Survivor’s Lap.” After sundown, luminarias are lit in memory of those who have lost their battle with cancer and in honor of cancer survivors.
“Relay For Life is unique and it offers something for everyone,” Kolstad said. “It is truly breathtaking and emotional to see the candlelit bags lining the track.”
A lap of total silence and special music concludes the survivor lap, but as the night grows later, silliness and madcap mayhem begins. There are contests, entertainment and fun activities to keep everyone entertained.
The Relay For Life will end the next day with a closing ceremony and a final victory lap for all participants.
To participate, each team member is asked to raise a minimum of $100 before the event, with all of the money going directly to the American Cancer Society’s life-saving research, education and patient service programs.
Other fundraising opportunities exist such as corporate underwriting, sponsorship, the sale of luminaries and individual donations.
“Relay For Life provides many opportunities for the public to learn more about cancer in their own community,” Kolstad said. “Cancer survivors are there to remind everyone that cancer is not always a death sentence.
“Their testimonies also provide a way for the public to become aware of the strength and courage shown by cancer patients,” she added. “We will provide information about our latest cancer control activities, patient programs and information about local events.”
About Relay for Life
The concept for Relay For Life was adopted from the 24-hour Relay which was created by an oncologist Dr. Gordon Klatt, and an American Cancer Society volunteer.
In 1985, Dr. Klatt walked for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash. and raised $27,000 for the ACS, which he then developed the concept of teams participating in a relay.
For more information about Relay for Life or Tuesday’s kick-off, contact event chair Jennifer Snyder at 225-317-0539, teams chair Kim Thompson at 903-373-5288 or Kolstad at 903-724-1480.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
• Tuesday — Kick-off Rally, 6 p.m. at Ben E. Keith Community Room, West Oak Street.
• Feb. 7 — Team/Committee Meetings, 5:30 p.m. in the Senior Meeting Room at Palestine Regional Medical Center.
• March 2 — Relay For Life Team’s Annual Yard Sale, hosted by Chris and Mary Kolstad.
• March 7 — Team/Committee Meetings, 5:30 p.m. in the Senior Meeting Room at Palestine Regional Medical Center.
• April 4 and 18 — Team/Committee Meetings, 5:30 p.m. in the Senior Meeting Room at Palestine Regional Medical Center.
• April 21 — Cancer Survivor and Caregiver Luncheon, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall.
• April 25 — Bank Night
• May 3-4 — Relay For Life at Westwood’s Panther Stadium.