Relay for Life kicking off

By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer

Colorful balloons, candles and a gender-bending beauty pageant are just a few of the activities planned during the American Cancer Society’s 11th annual Relay for Life.

Hundreds are expected to walk overnight Friday and Saturday at Ned Houk Park to raise funds for cancer research, education and patient support, according to American Cancer Society representative Dorothy Nelson. The overnight event is scheduled from 6 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday morning to signify “cancer never rests.”

The fund-raiser was started by American Cancer Society volunteer Dr. Gordy Klatt in 1985. The walk is now a nationwide event.

Local Survivor Chairperson Brienna Scott said she plans to participate in the weekend festivities because she has lost several friends to cancer and wants to honor those who have been personally touched by the disease.

“This is a great way to raise funds and awareness,” Scott said, “and hopefully find a cure for cancer.”

More than five dozen teams representing businesses, families, clubs and organizations will walk with two goals in mind — raise the most money and keep at least one team member walking at all times.

“We (event coordinators) are not really concerned with the rules,” Scott said. “We want everyone to come out and have a good time.”

According to Nelson, the event will kick-off with an opening ceremony where survivors and their caregivers will be encouraged to take the first lap of the evening. “This will be huge,” Nelson said, “because so many of the participants have been touched by cancer.”

Dr. Seuss’, “Oh!, The Places We’ll Go,” is this year’s theme and teams will be decorating banners and campsites around the whimsical theme with prizes for the most original. Walkers will stroll a scenic trail around the lake lit by luminaria, or paper lanterns, inscribed with the names of cancer survivors and those who’s lives were cut short by the disease.

Food and beverage vendors will provide sustenance while dancers, cheer squads and singers provide entertainment. A Texas Hold ‘em poker tournament, banner signing and a Ms. Relay pageant will also be included in the overnight festivities.

Special children’s events include a sack race, hula hoop contest and a balloon release lap, Nelson said.

“The public is invited to come out and experience the Relay,” Nelson, “because there is something fun for everyone.”

Relay schedule

• 5 p.m. — Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting
• 5:30 p.m. — Survivor registration & reception
• 6 p.m. — Opening ceremonies
• 6:30 p.m. — Introduction of survivors, caregivers and parade teams; “Wall of Hope” Banner Signing Celebration
• 7 p.m. to 9:30 — “Oh, the Places We’ll Go!” costume contest
• 7:15 p.m. — Relay kid’s kamp activities
• 8:30 p.m. —Luminaria ceremony, introduction of 2006 honorary chairs and families, moment of silence
• 9:30 p.m. — Texas Hold ‘Em Poker at the Grandstand
• 9:45 p.m. — Music by Shadow Casters
• 11:15 p.m. — Women’s relay For life lap
• 11:30 p.m. — Men’s relay for life lap
• 11:30 p.m. — Team captain meeting
• 12:30 p.m. — Scavenger hunt

• 1:30 a.m. — “Ms.” Relay pageant
• 2:15 a.m. — Relay committee meeting
• 2:30 a.m. — Music by Andy Mason
• 3:45 a.m. — Music by Discord
• 7 a.m. —Aerobics with Paddie Eichenberger
• 8 a.m. — Poker laps
• 9 a.m. — Closing awards ceremony