Hopkins County Relay For Life will kickoff its 12-hour fundraising walk for the American Cancer Society at 7 p.m. Friday, May 17, with the ceremonial first lap recognizing cancer survivors.
The ACS event is being held for the first time on the downtown square. All proceeds raised go to the American Cancer Society for research for a cure for cancer and toward services that benefit those affected by cancer.
The survivors lap includes anyone who is currently or has in the past waged a battle with the deadly disease. Community residents are encouraged to line the walking area and clap for the survivors as they make their way around the walking path; this is a way everyone can show their support and let them know their battle did not go unnoticed and that others are there to lend moral and often other support too.
Following the survivors lap, care-givers will take to the path to make a lap and be recognized for all their hours and efforts spent helping the cancer patients they assist.
“Some teams would like to dedicate a lap to someone special and have their whole team walk at once. Alliance Bank is going to do the lap after the caregiver and survivor lap,” said Johnna West, RFL Committee member.
So far, there are 220 cancer survivors and 103 care-givers signed up. Also, 27 teams have registered, bringing the total of registered participants to 584 for this year’s RFL.
Anyone who wants to enter a team but has not done so is still welcome right up until the kickoff Friday. Individuals are also welcome to make their donation and walk.
Those who have registered and not gotten their T-shirts may do so Thursday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the downtown square.
This year’s theme is “Tweet Away Cancer,” so people are encouraged to send messages which will be displayed on a large screen.
“You can follow us on Twitter and we will have designated hashtags to display your tweets on the big screen,” said Ashley McCracken, event co-coordinator. “We are Tweeting Away Cancer at the 2013 Relay for Life of Hopkins County.”
Of course, no RFL is complete without entertainment, with several performers lending their talents to the event.
In years past, RFL has had a food tent and offered stew cooked on site. However, this year, each team has been asked to prepare snacks to sell to benefit RFL and the American Cancer Society.
“The teams are selling different things at their campsites, including food and drinks, raffles, glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets, lap counter necklaces — see how many miles you can get in. We will also have a silent auction with lots of great items. Please come out and bring your cash,” McCracken said.
The silent auction will be set up at the tables on the west side of the grassy area.
McCracken also encourages everyone who can to come downtown and show their support.
“People do not have to be on teams or walking to participate,” she emphasized. “Everyone is welcome to come out and buy a barbecue sandwich from one team and cupcakes from another and raffle tickets from another and enjoy the show.”
West reminds that RFL is a family friendly environment; it is still an alcohol-free and smoke-free function.
The luminary ceremony in which candles are lit to light the path toward a cure and shine a little hope for the future will be held roughly at 9 p.m. Friday. Community members were encouraged to purchase luminaries in honor or memory of loved ones and friends who have or are battling cancer. Those who have lost their battle are also generally honored during this time. Luminaries may be purchased at the Friday event prior to the luminary ceremony.
Around 11:30 p.m., the Man Pageant will be held, in which a handful of RFL male participants voluntarily don a dress, heels and make-up, and some even wigs and tiaras, for a friendly competition.
RFL will wrap up at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, March 18, with awards presented to teams for their fundraising, banner, cheerleading and campsite efforts. The last lap is slated to conclude at 7 a.m., then it’s time for teams to pack everything back up and head home. In the event of inclement weather, RFL will wrap up early for the safety of everyone involved.
For more and up-to-the-minute information about RFL of Hopkins County, follow them out of Twitter (@RFLHopkinsCoTX), or check out their Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RFLHopkinsCoTX) and web (www.relayforlife.org/hopkinscotx) pages.
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