The American Cancer Society, the nation’s leading voluntary health organization, will be celebrating its 100th anniversary this year as it hosts the 14 annual Relay For Life event at the Milford Middle School beginning on Friday, June 14th and continuing through the night until Saturday, June 15. Last year the local event hosted 32 teams, composed of local individuals and businesses, as they passed their projected goal of $110,000. So far this year 31 teams and 271 participants have already raised over $43,963.13.
Relay For Life is a 12-hour event that brings together teams from local businesses, schools, churches and families for fun, food, music, entertainment and a night under the stars, while team members take turns walking on the track. Relay For Life begins with a Cancer Survivors reception and lap to celebrate life. The monies raised from this event will go toward the American Cancer Society’s research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.
Milford Event Chair Sarah Fox is excited to see this year’s ceremonies begin as the event this year will be closer to her heart than in year’s past. In March, Sarah’s best friend and confidant, Bryan Killen passed away from complications due to Colon Cancer. In his remembrance Relay For Life will continue the “Mr. Relay Pageant” which begun last year. The fundraising activity, which Bryan won, raised $1,000 in just two hours as contestants adorned their best runway outfits while asking for donations.
“Early detection of cancer will be one of the focuses this year,” commented Fox. “It does not matter what age you are, cancer does not discriminate. If you catch it early there is a better chance for survival.” Bryan Killen was only 27 years old when he passed away.
During the Relay for Life event survivors are the guest of honor. The Milford Relay will open with a Survivors Lap, where survivors will lead the way around the track while participants honor them with applause. The survivors lap helps survivors realize their accomplishments and celebrate what they have overcome. The lap also gives hope and inspiration to others by proving that cancer can be beat.
As the sun sets over the Milford Middle School the night sky will became bright from illuminated bags placed on the stadium bleachers. The Luminaria Ceremony is targeted toward “Remember.” During this time, participants are asked to gather and remember those who have fallen victim to cancer. Luminaria bags are decorated by participants, honoring a loved one who has passed or is fighting the disease. These bags are placed around the track and candles inside the bags are lit before the start of the Luminaria Ceremony. Usually, the luminarias are used to spell out words such as HOPE and CURE, and the words illuminate during the ceremony. Some participants or guest speakers are invited to share their stories and each participant is given a candle to light in remembrance of a loved one.
“Each luminaria represents the life of someone who has battled cancer. It is a beautiful sight when all the bags with candles are illuminated around the track,” said Stephanie Bradley volunteer luminaria chair. “The Luminaria Ceremony is a moving way to remember loved ones lost to cancer and to pay tribute to cancer survivors.”
The Relay For Life event continues overnight as individuals and teams camp out around the track of the Milford Middle School, with the goal of keeping at least one team member on the track or pathway at all times throughout the evening. Teams do most of their fundraising prior to the event, but some teams also hold creative fundraisers at their camp sites during Relay. Relay celebrates people who have battled cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and provides participants with an opportunity to fight back against the disease. All of these efforts are aimed at furthering the American Cancer Society’s vision of “a world with less cancer and more birthdays.” For more information on Relay for Life or to become involved in this event please call Sarah Fox, Event Chairperson, at 302-535-4338.