YADKINVILLE — Volunteers in Yadkin County are kicking things into high gear as they prepare for the 16th annual Relay for Life to be held at Forbush High School on May 9. Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society (ACS), said coordinator Allison Reeves.
According to the ACS website, 5,200 communities worldwide hold an annual Relay for Life event and more than $400 million is raised annually. Funds raised at Relay events primarily go toward cancer research, and programs and services in the local community.
The unique format of this event is what draws so many participants, Reeves said. Relay for Life is an overnight event during which participants register as a team with a goal to keep one team member on the track at all times in memory or honor of those battling cancer.
“It attracts so many people because everybody has been impacted by cancer in some form or fashion,” Reeves said.
According to the American Cancer Society’s 2014 Cancer Facts and Figures publication, 1,665,540 new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed this year.
Last year, 696 people participated in the Yadkin County Relay for Life, 103 of those participants were cancer survivors. The group exceeded its $94,000 fundraising goal by $13,000.
In preparation for this year’s Relay, organizers are still seeking sponsors and participants. Sponsorship opportunities for businesses range in fee from $250 to $5,000. The sponsorship deadline is Monday and businesses interested in purchasing a sponsor spot on this year’s Relay for Life T-shirt may contact Reeves at 336-428-1410.
Signage with cancer prevention information that will be posted around the track during the event also may be purchased for $100 by business sponsors or individuals wishing to honor a survivor or memorialize a loved one. These sponsorships will be available up until the week of the event, Reeves said.
This year’s fundraising goal is $108,000 and volunteers already are hard at work doing a variety of events including dinners, give-aways and working with local independent sellers for products such as Miche, Pampered Chef and 31 Gifts to do special events.
For this year’s Relay, organizers hope to have at least 740 participants and 40 teams. Many teams come from area churches and groups of friends and family members. There are also several area companies which have a team. Unifi and Yadtel both have teams and Reeves said she would like to see more local businesses take part in the event.
So far there are 34 teams registered for this year’s event and there is plenty of room for more.
“We would love to run out of space, that’s a dream,” Reeves said. “I walked out there last year and I couldn’t believe it because there were teams all the way around the track and that’s exciting when you see that.”
Reeves said they recommend having 10 to 15 persons per team in order to keep a member of the team on the track throughout the event, but she said they would never turn away a group with a smaller number of participants.
Relay is also a way to spread awareness about cancer prevention. Reeves said there are a number of teens involved and it’s a great opportunity to warn young adults about the dangers of tanning and smoking.
“Skin cancer has skyrocketed in young adults,” Reeves explained. “Not wanting our teens to tan is one of the things we stress.”
The event caters to all ages and will feature games and entertainment throughout the night and the traditional ceremonies associated with Relay.
“We want it to be a fun event,” Reeves said. “This year’s theme is sports and we’re hoping everybody will decorate their tent sites.”
The event will begin on the evening of May 9 with an opening ceremony and cancer survivors will take the first lap around the track. Throughout the night, there will be entertainment including local musicians, Zumba and more. The event is kid-friendly and will feature bounce houses and other games geared specifically to children.
“We want something for everyone,” Reeves said.
While the event will be a fun all-night celebration honoring cancer survivors and remembering lost loved ones, Reeves also said that anyone interested in participating should do so, even if they aren’t able to spend all night.
“There may be people out there that would like to be involved in Relay but they’re thinking, ‘I can’t handle that all night thing.’ That’s OK, if they want to help us raise funds they can still be a team and raise funds. If they don’t want to set up at Relay, that’s OK,” she said. “We say, do what you can with what you have, where you are.”
For more information about Yadkin County Relay for Life, visit www.relayforlife.org/yadkinnc or call 336-428-1410.
Kitsey E. Burns can be reached at 336-679-2341 or on Twitter @RippleReporterK.