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Relay for Life is under way
Event aids cancer research
relay for life SETUP WEB 5-15-09
Tayler Pugmire, left, and her brother Jacob help set up the tent that their group, Shootin' Out Cancer, will call their home tonight. - photo by Jim Dean


To learn more about Forsyth’s Relay for Life, go online at

The event at the fairgrounds begins with a survivor's lap at 6 p.m., goes through the night, and is open to anyone who would like to come.  There will be music all night, crafts for sale, food, and games for the kids. 

Get ready to walk around the clock.

Forsyth’s Relay for Life is here.  The event began at 6 p.m. with an opening lap by Cancer Survivors.  Closing ceremonies are set for 6 a.m. Saturday at the Cumming Fairgrounds. (click for map)

Nearly 75 teams have signed up to take part in the annual event, which raises money for the American Cancer Society while honoring cancer survivors and the memory of those who lost their lives to the disease.

Valery Hall, co-chair of the organizing committee, said 727 participants have registered so far. The goal is 1,200.

Financially, Hall said this year’s goal is $275,000.

“We’ve already taken in over $125,000,” she said Thursday, “so we are well on our way.”

Last year, the Forsyth Relay for Life raised $248,000 and had 76 teams with more than 1,200 participants.

A highlight of the event is a luminary ceremony, during which candles are lit inside white paper bags surrounding the fairgrounds. Each luminary represents someone who has cancer or died of it.

“By participating ... it’s my way of telling my mom I still miss her every day and will love her always,” said Michelle Slaton, ceremony organizer.

Slaton’s mother died of lung cancer that spread to her brain nearly 24 years ago. She said she also enjoys the ceremony because it gives her an opportunity to help others who have lost loved ones.

Hall said a special guest will kick off this year’s luminary ceremony.

“A very special girl, Rachel Farley, is coming to sing a song written by [David Greer] from Gwinnett County called ‘All are Our Heroes,’” she said.

Farley is a 14-year-old rising country music singer from Lawrenceville. She teamed with songwriter David Greer and producer Shawn Mullins of Atlanta for the song, which is being used as a theme of sorts for relay events around the country.

All proceeds from the song, which can be downloaded at, go to the American Cancer Society. According to the Web site, Greer, Farley and Mullins hope to raise $1 million nationwide.

Other festivities at what Hall calls a “family-focused free event” include a balloon release, games, face painting and a variety of food and vendors.

Amanda Ryan, a teacher at Forsyth Central High School, will take part with some of her students.

“The Central students have been working very hard this year,” she said. “We have been raising funds and holding student team meetings since January.”

Some of their efforts include selling hope bracelets, lollipops, luminaries and team T-shirts. She said they have surpassed their goal of raising $5,000.

“As a teacher, I work all year to give students the opportunity to succeed in the classroom and grow as a student,” she said. “Relay for Life has provided these same students the opportunity to succeed in our community and grow as a person.”