Over the last few months, more than 200 community members have come together to raise money and awareness by participating in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event. On Saturday, May 18, the event will kick-off at Wasuma Elementary School off Highway 49 in Ahwahnee.
"Everyone is excited to get started," said Nicole Meeker, event chair. "The generosity of the community is amazing. Even this close to relay day, we are still getting donations and offers of help."
The event will kick-off with an opening ceremony at 9 a.m. Cancer survivors will then start the relay event by taking the first lap around the track at 9:30 a.m. Afterwards, survivors are invited to a special survivor's breakfast at the school's cafeteria, which will be catered by Crab Cakes Restaurant. There will be a raffle, speakers and entertainment.
Because it's the American Cancer Society's 100th anniversary, this year's theme is a "Century of Research - A Future of Cures." Teams are being encouraged to represent different eras from the last 100 years through decorations, dress, and/or providing research from that decade to represent how far cancer research has come.
Event attendees are also being invited to donate their hair to Locks of Love, participate in the Crazy Hat Contest or the Road to Recovery Car Race -- Flintstone-style cars built by teams to reflect their team name. The cars will be judged separately on decorations and how well they do in the race. There will also be watermelon eating contests, pie eating contests, various entertainers on stage, and DJ's playing music throughout the entire 24-hour event.
At around 7 p.m., there will be a mass Monarch Butterfly release to celebrate 8-year-old Jesse West who died from from brain cancer last June.
The Luminaria Ceremony, which is held to remember those who have lost their life to cancer, will be held at 8 p.m. Luminaires cost $10.
Caregivers will also be celebrated and have their own flower garden corner at Relay for Life. Survivors can purchase paper flowers as a thank you to their caregiver. On the flowers, survivors can write notes of encouragement and thanks to their caregiver.
At 8 a.m. Sunday, May 19, everyone will come together for the Fight Back Ceremony. The ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each person makes to the fight against cancer.
The 24-hour event will wrap up with a closing ceremony at 9 a.m. May 19.