Cancer survivors to be celebrated at annual event

Saturday, cancer survivors will be celebrated and those who have lost their battle with cancer will be remembered at the 2012 Relay for Life of Phelps County.

The free event will be held Aug. 18 from noon to midnight at Lions Club Park, located on South Highway 63 in Rolla.

Relay for Life, a signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society (ACS), is aimed at fighting back against cancer and raising money to find a cure.

“Cancer survivors and their families and teams all get together to celebrate another year, remember those who lost their battle and fight back against the devastation that cancer causes,” said Bryan Thompson, chair of the 2012 Relay for Life of Phelps County.

This year’s goal is to raise $70,000 for the ACS and so far, more than $48,000 has been raised. Thompson said he believes it is possible to reach the goal.

A total of 275 individuals on 25 fundraising teams have registered for the area Relay.

“This is more people than we’ve ever seen,” said Thompson, who has been involved with Relay for seven years.

Also so far, 89 cancer survivors have registered, but Thompson said usually more register the day of the Relay. Registration opens at 10:30 a.m. and Thompson encourages people to come early to register. Cancer survivors will get a free T-shirt.

Thompson said the public is encouraged to attend because everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.

“It affects one in three of us,” Thompson said.

The 2012 Relay will start at noon with an opening ceremony, which will include speakers, followed by a survivors lap around the park that starts at 12:15 p.m. A second opening ceremony and survivors lap will take place at 5:30 and 5:45 p.m. respectively.

Thompson said two ceremonies were planned in case it was too warm, but the forecast for Saturday calls for sunny skies with a high temperature of around 80 degrees.

New this year will be an honorary torch bearer, which is Sydney Stoltz.

Following the second survivors lap, a dinner for survivors and their care givers will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Lions Den. The dinner is being sponsored by Lee’s Chicken and Phelps County Regional Medical Center Hospital.

A luminaria ceremony will take place at 8:30 p.m. Thompson said luminaria bags will be sold at the Relay for $5 each and can be decorated for free. The luminaria bags can be purchased in memory of a cancer victim or in honor of a cancer survivor.

A fight-back ceremony, in which the community is invited to make a commitment to fight cancer, in ways such as giving up smoking or holding a fundraiser, will take place at 9 p.m. followed by closing ceremonies at midnight.

Throughout the day, there will be several live concerts starting at 1 p.m. Bands include Sinner Saved, Jen and Jes, John Matthews, Chris Bryant, Barry Mankin, Donna Stephens and the Stonebrook Church of Waynesville. Thompson said the free live music is a great reason to attend.

Activities for all ages also will be available. Among them are face painting, handmade quilt raffle, silent auction, obstacle course, games, bouncy house, clowns, dunk tank, cruise-in and balloon animals. Fundraising teams also will be selling food and crafts. Thompson said because there are more teams this year, there are more activities than in past years.

The theme of the 2012 Relay for Life of Phelps County is Pink and Purple Safari and many booths will be decorated with this theme, Thompson said.

No alcohol, smoking or pets will be allowed at the Relay event.

Thompson thanked the many sponsors who are helping to support Relay for Life and who held fundraising events earlier this year.

Thompson is part of a 12-member Relay committee this year. He said the committee is always looking for fundraising teams and volunteers, including people to start organizing next year’s Relay.