A celebration to fight cancer

Published 10:03 am Friday, April 29, 2011

Relay for Life set for Friday, April 29
Expect Polk County High School’s campus to come alive Friday night, April 29 with the sounds of celebration.
Pete Crandall, co-chair of Polk County’s Relay for Life event, said in its 16th year there will be 23 teams walking the track to fight cancer and revel in the lives of those who have survived the disease.

People line the track at Polk County High School beside luminaries waiting to be lit at last year's Relay for Life. (photo by Leah Justice)

“The event is basically a celebration. We celebrate, remember and fight back,” Crandall said. “The celebrate portion is for the survivors, and there are more survivors from cancer every year in this country.”
It is also aimed at honoring the lives of those who did not beat the disease.
“Let’s also celebrate the lives of the people who have lost the fight, because from a lot of the people who are no longer with us, ACS has learned a lot which has allowed them to help many future people,” he said.
Many of the almost two dozen Polk County teams began fundraising not weeks after last year’s event in April. They’ve held pancake suppers, sold baked goods and held concerts and silent auctions.
In the past the local effort has raised $60-70,000. Crandall said he hopes the event comes close to those numbers again this year.
One way to increase funds is to retain previous teams and recruit new ones. Crandall gives his co-chair Xan Morse the credit for ensuring lots of youth are involved.
“She has made it a personal goal to get all the schools involved,” Crandall said. “And that has created a lot of excitement. I think we need to start instilling in our young people the need to give back to the community and that’s just another way Relay has a positive effect. The whole purpose is to have a good time and help people while they are doing it.”
This year’s event will kick off at 6 p.m. with a short presentation and invocation. Then a survivors lap will start at 6:15 p.m. to give reverence to survivors and caregivers. Afterward announcers will introduce teams and the relay of laps will begin.
Crandall said a DJ will provide music and entertainment throughout the night. He also said in the past they’ve had demonstrations from clog dancers, gymnasts, local and young musicians.
At 9 p.m. those wishing to honor loved ones can experience the luminaries. This year each luminary will include a canned good inside as a weight and those canned items will then be donated to Thermal Belt Outreach.
Crandall said teams were excited to be able to get double benefit out of that effort.
The event will culminate with a closing ceremony at 12:30 a.m.

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