The lives claimed by cancer are well-documented, but often obscure the stories of those who’ve battled the disease successfully — a fact that will be highlighted by an event Saturday in Mount Airy.
Now in its 18th year, the local Relay for Life is expected to bring together hundreds of survivors for a day-long celebration of their accomplishments which also will remember those whose lives have been lost. It will include music by several bands, fireworks, games and other activities.
“I think it’s a charging event,” Dianne Johnson, who is co-chairing Relay for Life, said of the positive energy generated at the Mount Airy High School football stadium where it is held each year.
The day will be highlighted by a survivors’ lap around the track encircling the stadium, with participants showing their true color — namely one symbolizing their special victory over cancer. “That’s when you see that sea of purple coming down and getting on the track,” said Johnson, whose father was claimed by the disease in June.
Relay for Life also will include survivors getting a chance at the microphone to announce the length of time that has passed since they have beaten cancer. As many as 300 survivors have been part of the event in recent years.
Meanwhile, it also will showcase the efforts of 51 different teams formed at businesses, churches and other entities in Surry County which have mounted various moneymaking efforts in support of the Relay for Life campaign. It is the primary fundraiser of the American Cancer Society, with the money used for research as well as services to victims of the disease.
Live Music Planned
“We’re going to open the gates on Saturday at 8 o’clock for teams to come in and start setting up their campsites,” Johnson said of the gathering that will end at 10 p.m. that day.
While individual teams have organized fundraisers leading up to Relay for Life, some will continue those efforts Saturday by offering various items for sale. “There’s just all kinds of different food there,” Johnson said of the scene at past events.
The teams will walk the track at noon Saturday to highlight the variety of organizations represented at the Relay for Life.
At 2 p.m., everyone will be asked to assemble at the home-side bleachers of the stadium for a formal program to include the dedication of the 2012 Relay for Life to the late Griggs Hampton. Hampton was a major supporter of the campaign who died of brain cancer last December.
After the program, the survivor lap is planned. Later on, at 9 p.m., luminaries are to be lit around the track in honor of those who have died.
“We also will have fireworks this year,” Johnson said.
Sandwiched in between the early afternoon and evening activities will be live music. “We have several different bands that are coming in to play,” added the event official, who is co-chairing it with Roxanne Moore. The list of performers includes The Klassix, an oldies group.
Also planned are fun activities for adults and children, Johnson said, including line dancing and Zumba, various games and a bounce house.
Changes This Year
The 2012 Relay for Life will operate under a different time frame and format than past gatherings.
One change involves the shortening of the event that has begun on a Friday evening and continued until Saturday in the past.
“We thought if we moved it to a Saturday-only event, we would get more participation,” Johnson explained. It also became increasingly difficult to have participants remain at the stadium overnight.
The Relay for Life additionally has been moved this year to September from its June date in 2011, reflecting a spring schedule of recent years. The event once was held later in the year, which produced some of its larger turnouts.
Yet regardless of the changes, Relay for Life remains a constant reminder of the value of shared hope in the struggle against a sometimes-deadly enemy.
“I encourage anyone who’s never been out…just to come out and see what we’re all about,” Johnson said. “I promise they’ll have a good time.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.