The American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Shenandoah County will begin at 6 p.m. today at the Massanutten Military Academy track. Vendors, games, food and music will fill the lawn for the 20th annual celebration centered around the theme “Relay Around the World: One World, One Hope.”
Whitney Minnick, community development manager said what started over 20 years ago by a single individual has continued to grow in size and collaboration every year, not just locally but nationally and internationally.
“Cancer never sleeps,” Minnick said. “For 12 hours, neither do we. Instead, we celebrate, honor and support cancer survivors and caregivers.”
This year, 31 teams from across Shenandoah County will help raise funds for the American Cancer Society. The money will power research, education efforts and support services for those in treatment and caregivers across the county.
“The goal is to raise $115,000,” Minnick said. “We’ve already raised over $67,000; we’re more than halfway there.”
With 300 individuals already registered for the 12-hour event, Minnick said she’s confident they will reach their desired goal.
“We have such a supportive community here in Shenandoah,” Minnick said. “Our goal is to continue to spread the word on what our organization offers. But more importantly, we want to inspire those in attendance and remind them that they are not alone in their fight.”
The opening ceremony will include the invocation, flag raising and guest speakers. Survivors will then begin their first lap, followed by caregivers and then the public. A goal of 4,750 laps has been set, symbolic of the number of individuals diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year.
“The whole community is invited to join in the celebration,” Minnick said. “Actually we encourage it.”
A silent auction, with over 70 items will take place, along with activities for children, including kids bubble lap, face painting and crafts. Live entertainment will include “Bound for Glory” and “Twilight Double Leader.” Other activities include a dare wheel, tug of war, musical chairs, karaoke and bingo.
The luminaria ceremony beginning at 9 p.m. represents individuals who have been affected by cancer. Each light represents a person currently fighting, a survivor or a life taken by the disease.
“There’s a welcoming feeling that everyone gets when they step onto the track Friday night,” Minnick said. “People gain encouragement, make new friends but most importantly walk away feeling healed and excited because they want to do more. That’s a great feeling.”