The American Cancer Society (ACS), the nation’s leading voluntary health organization, will hold its 15th annual Relay For Life event at the former Milford Middle School, beginning Friday, June 13 at 6pm and ending Saturday, June 14 at 6am. 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 to raise funds for ACS.
More than just a two-day event, Relay for Life teams of volunteers raise money for ACS all year long with the hope of increasing awareness, donations and support for those battling cancer. This year 22 teams have already raised over $32,000 of their ultimate fundraising goal of $75,000. With over 220 participants this year, Milford Relay for Life Chairperson Trudy Killen is excited about her first year helping to organize the event. Killen became involved with Relay for Life eight years ago as part of a Relay team and recently lost her 27-year-old son to colon cancer.
“We want our participants to understand that cancer never sleeps and it does not exempt anyone regardless of race, creed, sex, age or anything else,” commented Killen. “The American Cancer Society offers so much support for families and individuals and this is our chance as a community to help others battling cancer.”
The Milford Relay begins with the traditional Survivors Lap, where cancer survivors led 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 stadium that night, the night sky will be bright from illuminated bags placed on the stadium bleachers. During the Luminaria Ceremony participants are asked to gather together to remember those who have fallen victim to cancer. Luminaria bags are decorated by participants honoring a loved one who passed or is currently fighting the disease. The bags are placed around the track with candles inside the bags and lit to start of the Luminaria Ceremony.
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.”
The Relay for Life event offers opportunities for participants to meet others who are as equally passionate about finding a cure for cancer, thank people who have helped with personal cancer experiences and make new, lasting friendships and memories. Killen hopes that this event will help to increase awareness and advocacy among local families.
“We want everyone to take away that they are not alone,” commented Killen. “This is a community event and the community is here to support each other, it is about all of us.”