Relay for Life is not just about walking

Another year has passed and it’s time once again to grab tennis shoes and team members as people around the world walk in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.
Relay for Life of Ray County invites everyone to participate. Ordering a luminaria now, for $5 and specifying the name to have specially screen-printed on it means it will be ready to light for the evening of the Relay on June 5. Orders received that evening will be handwritten.
“The luminaria bags look so much nicer printed beforehand,” said Stacey Cox.
The kickoff event begins Thursday with the Annual Cancer Survivor Dinner held at 6:30 p.m., June 4, at the United Christian Presbyterian Church, 501 N. Spartan Drive in Richmond. Survivors that wish to attend should contact Barb Hutchings at 816-776-3240 by June 1. Music will be provided by the CME Choir and Bryan and Wendy Shank. Speakers include Connie Taylor, Mike Carr and others.
The Relay itself starts at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 5 and goes all night, ending at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 6. It will be held at the Richmond High School Track.
Emotions are high during the opening ceremony when cancer survivors step onto the track. As they take the first lap of the event they, and their loved ones in the stands and on the sidelines, experience indescribable myriads of feelings. Halfway through the first lap, their caregivers come out to join them. Publicity Chairwoman Sherry Allen said Orrick and Richmond cheerleaders will be there too, cheering them on.
But, that’s just the beginning.
“Rob Kinnard emailed me and said there will be volleyball, dodge-baseball, interactive music, dance contests, flag football, Frisbee golf, gunny sack races, parachute games, tug o’ war and outdoor bowling. He has planned some surprises,” said Allen.
Drawings for free prizes, a silent basket auction, lots of food and aerobics are other activities to look forward to.
Later, the luminaries are lit and the flickers of light they cast are like small stars around the track.
Not merely paper bags filled with sand and candles, each glowing bag represents a life that battled cancer. Sometimes there are literally hundreds of luminaria lighting the way around the track. A moment of silence is observed during the ceremony. Many participants say this is one of the most emotional parts of the event.
“The Luminaria Ceremony (from 10 to 11 p.m.) is an opportunity for us to come together and remember why we are here at Relay for Life,” said Allen. “Each one represents a treasured relationship. They represent people, and each has a name and story to tell. They are our mothers, our fathers, our sisters, our brothers, our sons, our daughters, our friends and our loved ones. As they glow through the night, they represent our shared vision for a cancer free future.”
The Relay brochure reflects the Relay for Life mission, “It is a time to remember those lost to cancer, support those fighting cancer, and rejoice with those who have fought and won.”
At midnight, teams will participate in the Fight Back ceremony. The CME Choir will do the closing ceremony.
Twenty teams have registered for the walk. The goal is to raise $35,000. Each team tries to keep at least one member walking on the track at all times.
“Each team has a personal reason for participating in Relay. We have all been touched by cancer and we are ready to fight back!” said Allen. “It’s not too late to form a Relay team.”
Allen said team members raise money before the event individually and through team fundraisers, however she stresses, “You don’t have to be on a team to come. Everyone is invited.”
For more information, please call Lorna Oliphant, Team Recruitment Chair, at 816-470-5203 or Sherry Allen, Publicity Chair, at 816-470-7263.

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