“Celebrate. Remember. Fight back.”
That’s what more than 350 community members will do during this weekend’s Relay for Life, a 24-hour walk/run for cancer awareness. The event is held annually in cities across the country to raise money for cancer research.
Starting at 10 a.m. Saturday, 50 teams will camp out at the , with a member from each team on the track at all time.
In addition to the relay, the event will feature special remembrance ceremonies and a variety of fundraising games, raffle prizes, activities and live entertainment for the entire community.
“We’d like people to come out and spend the day with us,” said Jennifer Dudley, the Relay for Life event chair. “We’re a community. We are not islands, we can’t do this without each other.”
Bring a few bucks, win awesome prizes
Visitors coming for the day should bring cash as various teams will be holding fundraisers and raffling off cool prizes.
According to Dudley, , who gave away a flast-screen TV, will be raffling another prize. The Union City’s Police Officer’s Association, who raffled an iPad, is also participating again. The New Haven Teachers Association will be raffling BBQ equipment and supplies. Habitat for Humanity has donated a 6-foot by 6-foot children’s playhouse for the raffle as well, Dudley said.
Raffle prizes also include two gift certificates to indoor skydiving at and a gift certificate for one hour of Rolling Video Games, a mobile game truck perfect for birthday parties. Dudley’s team will raffle off perhaps the most unique prize — two dozen fresh eggs a month for a whole year, laid from chickens raised by Dudley herself.
Visitors can also drop by the campsites and learn more about cancer and the individuals trying to fight it. Each team has its own “fight back” message, Dudley said.
Among the main attractions at each Relay for Life is the luminaria ceremony. Luminarias are paper bag lanterns that are sold for donations. Participants write notes or draw pictures for their loved ones on the bags. When the sun goes down the luminarias are lit and lined up along the track.
The ceremony will be held just after sunset on Saturday. It will include slideshows and , who passed away last month from a rare form of bone cancer.
“It will take a very moving experience and multiply it tenfold,” Dudley said.
“What’s more exciting than a stadium full of bawling people?” she joked.
Another highlight each year is the Survivor’s Lap.
At 10 a.m. Sunday, cancer survivors will walk and run a lap, earning a medal of recognition for their incredible strength in fighting cancer.
“It’s just wonderful that so many more people are surviving cancer these days,” Dudley said.
The final ceremony of the day is a “Fight Back” ceremony in which participants pledge to fight cancer, be it through changing their diet, quitting smoking, or going to the doctor to take tests such as colonoscopies, that some are often apprehensive to take, Dudley said.
The fight isn’t over
Dudley hopes to raise $100,000 through Relay for Life — a goal more than triple the $30,000 they set last year.
Last year, the community raised $63,000 for cancer awareness through Relay for Life.
So far, the community has already raised $45,000 through Relay for Life via participant registration and fundraising events.
If you’d like to join the celebration, there’s still time to register. According to Dudley, registration is being accepted online until the event begins and on-site registration will be available.
The Relay for Life committee asks that each team member raise $300 and have one person on the track at all times because “cancer never sleeps,” but anything members can contribute is appreciated, Dudley said.
Even if you can’t participate, she still encourages you to drop by for the festivities.
“Have a good time and learn something in the process and support our community,” Dudley said.
To register for Relay for Life and learn more about the event, visit the Union City Relay for Life website.