In celebration of community members who have both won and lost their battle with cancer, the Relay for Life will light up the night on Saturday night with hundreds of luminaria candles and other activities. The annual event will take place on the track at Rocky Mountain High School, starting at 5 p.m. and ending earlier than in previous years, at midnight.
“The Relay has always been about those who have battled the disease in our community,” explained organizer Carol Fink, a two-time cancer survivor.
Organizers said they changed the event from being an all-nighter in order to accommodate people who don’t want to stay up quite so late.
The national theme of this year’s event is “Finish the Fight.” Relay events across the country will be held using the same theme. All proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
The evening will begin with tailgate food sales and a family carnival that will include games, a bounce house, a bouncy slide, a bead walk, cakewalk and face painting. The popular food offerings will include a variety of mostly homemade items provided by the teams participating in the event. The games will be coordinated this year by the VIP Preschool and Children’s Resource Center.
A silent auction of special gift baskets will begin at 5 p.m. and will end at 9:30 p.m. The auction will feature gift baskets donated by teams including a home maintenance basket, a princess-themed basket for girls, a basket featuring a collection of chocolates and more.
A special reception for survivors and their families will take place at 6 p.m. The reception will include cake and punch for those attending. Survivors can sign up at the event and are welcome to participate at any of the events.
There will not be a keynote speaker at this year’s event. Instead, Ken Ferbrache will act as master of ceremonies.
Official opening ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. featuring a color guard, including some familiar faces like Rich and Scott Fink, Jerry Anderson, Jack Nicholls and others. A live performance of the National Anthem by former music teacher George Preis, of Lovell, will follow along with an introduction of the event organizing committee.
Laps around the track will begin with a survivor walk. Caregivers will follow and then teams will begin their walk. Local firefighters will also take a lap on the track for the first time this year. Once the teams have completed their first lap, others attending the event are invited and encouraged to walk, as well.
Live entertainment by local musicians Olivia Frost, Taylor Despain and Amyntas Hinckley will begin after the initial laps. Each entertainer will sing a medley of songs. Jessica Leonhardt will also offer a Zumba event.
Firefighters will pass out free ice cream sometime during the evening, as they have in previous years.
At 10 p.m., a special tribute slideshow presentation will begin in honor of survivors and in memory of those who have lost their battle with cancer. The luminarias will be lit following the slide show. In previous years literally hundreds of luminarias were lit during the event, creating a dramatic tribute to those stricken with the disease.
The luminarias, which are available for purchase at the event, are a paper bag holding a votive candle. Those purchasing a luminaria are invited to decorate the bag with a unique tribute to their loved one. The bags will be held down with cans of food that will be donated later to the local food bank at the United Methodist Church in Lovell.
At 11 p.m. a “Race to the Finish” 5K run will begin. Participants can sign up the night of the event and will receive a glow-in-the-dark T-shirt for their efforts.
The closing ceremonies this year will take place at midnight.
For more information, contact Lori at 272-1601 or Carol at 272-1040. To purchase luminarias contact Kim Scheid at 272-5173. For information about survivor activities contact Tianne Samson at 272-9802.
By Patti Carpenter