Newton County Relay For Life organizers are gearing up for the annual Relay, slated to begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Bob Anderson Stadium on the Neosho High School campus.
"The opening ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and that will continue through the team introductions, survivor and caregiver laps," said Kelly Emanuel, chairperson for the Relay. "Our luminary ceremony will begin approximately at 9 p.m. We will have a fight back ceremony 12:30 a.m. Saturday and there will be a lot of entertainment overnight, a game every half hour. We have a lot of cool prizes to give away this year."
Relay For Life is a fun-filled, overnight event. Teams of eight to 15 members gather with tents and sleeping bags to participate in the largest fundraising walk in the nation. Relay For Life unites friends, families, businesses, hospitals, schools and churches — people from all walks of life. Teams seek sponsorship prior to the Relay, all with the goal of supporting a cure for cancer.
This year, the local Relay has 22 teams, with a monetary goal of $80,000.
"The main purpose of the event is to provide education and awareness of cancer," Emanuel said. "Of course, it is also about raising important funds for the ACS (American Cancer Society). This allows more research into all cancers to finally find a cure. No two cancers are the same, so it is important to continue the research because a treatment for breast cancer may not work for colon cancer. A portion of the donations also provides ACS services to our local community such as 'Look Good, Feel Better,' Hope Lodge, and matching you with available services which could be helping with transportation, providing another ear to listen, helping you through the process and explaining what the doctor told you."
This year's theme is "Hope Big, Dream Big, and Relay Big."
"Hope Big, Dream Big, Relay Big was a divisional theme that our Relay adopted," she said. "Relay is verything that theme says, it's about Hope for a Cure. In our dreams, there is a cure, and we Relay to help find a cure. We want to do it bigger, we need to get better and think bigger."
There will be a silent auction again this year with countless items. A local church, Abundant Life, will serve food. There will be music playing and lots of fundraisers in tent city – which is where those who attend camp out.
One of the ceremonies is the luminary service. This year, Tami Owens will be the guest speaker during that event. Owens will talk about her daughter, Meghan Drake.
"Meghan began having a sore throat and was continually diagnosed with allergy drainage," said Owens. "In October of 2011 she was finally diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer. Basically a type of lung cancer that presented itself first and only in her esophagus."
Page 2 of 2 - Emanuel encourages everyone to attend the Relay and she is pleased with the support from the community.
"It is important to come to this Relay, and every Relay because we need to fund the researchers now, we need to advocate right now as the national budget is being cut, to keep funding in cancer research," Emanuel said. "We need to fundraise right now to keep the researchers in the lab."