SKOWHEGAN – The 2013 American Cancer Society Relay for Life for Somerset County will feature at least 38 teams with just under 500 participants, according to registration chair Heidi York Lyman. “We are on target to meet our goal, but we need all the help we can get,” Lyman said at the May 21 team captains’ meeting at Skowhegan Middle School.
This year’s Relay for Life will be held at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds on June 15-16 and organizers have set a fund-raising goal of $124,000.
Relay for Life is a community event where teams take turns walking on the horse racing track at the fairgrounds continuously for 18 hours. Many have held yard sales, food sales, a “Zumba-thon” and other events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
The public also invited to watch the events – you do not have to be a team member.
The top three teams in fund-raising as of mid-May were Securing Our Survival (SOS), Team New Balance and SPARC.
Another popular way of making a donation to fight cancer is the purchase of a luminaria, a paper bag illuminated by a votive candle and placed on the track after dusk. They can be personalized with names or photos in memory of someone who was lost to cancer or dedicated to a survivor. Suggestion minimum donation is $10.
This year’s Relay for Life theme is “Holidays” and teams are encouraged to dress in appropriate attire of their choice – Christmas, Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.
One of the most popular – and emotional – moments of Relay for Life is at the beginning of the event when cancer survivors and their caregivers take a parade lap on the track. Some who are unable to walk can ride in a wagon to celebrate the occasion. “A survivor is anyone who has successfully battled cancer or who is still undergoing treatment for it,” said committee chair Judi York. “Caregivers are anyone who has or is still helping someone with cancer, including family and friends.”
On the lighter side, the “Miss Relay” contest at midnight Saturday will feature the best collection of ladies wearing dresses created out of newspaper and duct tape. “They can’t start working on them until 11 o’clock,” entertainment chairman John Clark noted. “That way, no one has an advantage. Some of the creations have really been unique.”
Melissa Cushman, the community development executive for the American Cancer Society’s Maine division, said that Relay for Life not only gives the organization high visibility, but long-term benefits. “Everything we do has a ripple effect on people that we don’t even know personally,” Cushman said.
The next Relay for Life event will be “Bank Night” Tuesday, June 11 at 6 p.m. at Skowhegan Middle School. This is the night when participants drop off their donations and luminaria forms and pick up their team t-shirts.
For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org and enter “Skowhegan, Maine” in the search box.