All welcome at Relay for Life

Cancer. That six-letter word can strike fear and worry into even the stoutest of hearts. Nearly everyone knows someone who has the disease, or who has died from it.

This weekend, roughly 500 people will gather at LaCreole Middle School during the 2015 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Polk County.

The 24-hour event will include someone from each of the 40 teams walking the track throughout the day — which is forecast to be in the high 70s to mid-80s — through the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, and past sunrise.

Everyone in the community is welcome to join the Relayers at the event and help “Give Cancer the Boot.” Plenty of activities throughout the day and well into the evening are scheduled, so even if you’re not on a team, you can find something that may interest you.

The day will start with a Survivor’s Lap, where purple shirts will pack the track. Those who have cancer or who have beaten the disease will walk together in solidarity.

Each lap has a theme, from country to Mr. Relay, when male Relayers will dress as women and compete for the title of Mr. Relay. It’s entertaining to see, and whoever raises the most money wins the title.

As evening dawns, luminarias — paper lanterns representing anyone, living or dead, who has heard the terrible three words, “You have cancer” — will be lit. These lanterns line the track as Relayers honor those who are fighting and remember those who have been lost.

This year, a Relay Marketplace will be filled with goodies, all proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society. Two silent auctions will contribute to the efforts to combat cancer.

Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s biggest fundraiser, with teams participating all over the world. It started with one man, Dr. Gordy Klatt, in 1985. Klatt walked and ran the 24-hour event on his own. He died on Aug. 3, 2014, of heart failure after battling stomach cancer.

Money raised through the event goes to help find a cure by funding research and spreading education and awareness about how to avoid cancer in the first place.

Come on down to LaCreole this weekend and check it out for yourself. Bring a little cash to donate at the marketplace, silent auction or Relay store. Honor someone you know who has cancer or who has died from it, and learn more about how to avoid it.

Don’t be afraid to come on down and check it out. Relayers will be there all night long.

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