Party to kick off Relay season

This photo represents the survivor lap that took place at the 2016 Henryetta Relay for Life event. 
(Photo by Amber Smith)
By ASHLEY WOLSTONCROFT
Free-Lance Editor 
 
Lace the walking shoes. 
The 2017 Henryetta Relay for Life season is here. 
To celebrate, the Relay team will host a kick-off party at Henryetta First United Methodist Church Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. with pizza from Cheezies. 
“We'll be going over why we relay, where the money goes, how to sign up for relay, what we help fund with our fundraising and things like that,” Director and Dewar Mayor Amber Smith said. 
“Everybody can come.”
Participants have the option of registering a team that night.
“It's free to sign up and start your team,” she said. 
Relay for Life is a worldwide event involving over 5,200 communities and 20 countries. 
It is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS). 
“Relay is a team fundraising event where team members take turns walking around a track or designated path,” ACS explained on their website. 
Henryetta's Relay will be hosted at the football field. 
“Each event is 6-24 hours in length and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. Cancer patients don't stop because they're tired, and for one night, neither do we,” ACS said. 
During the event, each team designs a themed campsite where they collect donations through food, games and activities. 
ACS briefly described what to expect at a Relay event. 
Participants are welcomed in an opening ceremony, followed by a survivor lap. 
“[Survivor Lap] is when survivors and people currently affected by cancer walk the track to be cheered and supported by everyone in attendance,” ACS said. 
Next is the caregiver lap, which recognizes those who have provided support to others battling cancer and attending treatments. 
Afterward, teams meet on the track to cheer and pep themselves up before the long stretch. They then take turns walking the track and visiting team campsites. As evening approaches, darkness is symbolic of the fear that a patient feels when diagnosed. 
“After sunset, we light luminaries to remember those we have lost, to celebrate cancer survivors and to show those affected by cancer that they are not alone,” ACS said. 
When morning approaches again and the event comes to a close, another ceremony is hosted to thank volunteers and participants. 
The idea for the schedule came from Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt in May 1985 when he walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington to raise money to help ACS. 
“Gordy spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track,” ACS said. 
“Friends, family and patients watched and supported him as he walked and ran more than 83.6 miles and raised $27,000 through pledges to help save lives from cancer.”
As he circled the track, he thought about how he could make a difference and transform his efforts into a wider-spread event. 
“The next year, 19 teams were part of the first Relay at the historical Stadium Bowl, and raised $33,000,” ACS said. 
Smith hopes the City of Henryetta can raise double the amount. 
“We are hoping to raise $60,000 this year,” she said. 
“We are really excited and have a new staff partner this year who works from ACS in Tulsa. I'd like people to come out and see what we're all about. We have a lot of new stuff lined up.”
Henryettan Lindsey Moore participated with a team at Relay for Life last year, and said she is excited for another year. 
“I plan on going to the party,” she said. 
“Last year was our first year having a team with Relay for Life. We had 15 register under our team but several others joined us that night in our walk.”
Moore's team was entitled, “Moore Motivation.” They walked in honor of Kay Moore and in memory of Jimmy Nail, Bill Moore, Sharon Hill and DeWayne Winn. 
“In 2005 we had both an aunt and uncle diagnosed with cancer in a month's time,” she said. “It was then that we knew we had to stand up and do something. Don't get me wrong, we had lost loved ones to cancer in years past, but two at one time just made an impact on our lives that you could say made us realize we needed to help find a cure in any way we could.”
In February, Moore's uncle lost his battle to cancer.
“...Which made this event so much more than just an event,” Moore said. 
“The gain from participating in this event is the feeling that you get just to know that you are helping in some way to find the cure to this horrible disease that is taking over so many lives. Cancer is spreading like a wildfire and with the experiments, scientists, money that people are raising, support and God, we will put that fire out.” 
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