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Relay for Life kicks off 2015 campaign in Forsyth
Event on May 2 at Cumming Fairgrounds
Walkers take part in the 2014 Relay for Life in Forsyth County. This years event is set for May 2. - photo by FCN file photo

FORSYTH COUNTY — Fundraising for Relay for Life just started, but has already picked up the pace.

On Tuesday night, the Lanier Technical College Forsyth County Conference Center played host to the 2015 Relay for Life Kickoff, which started the group’s fundraising efforts for the year.

The group held a larger-than-average gathering to mark a special occasion.

“It was a great event. Normally, we just invite the team captains and the participants to the kickoff,” said Brooke VanBuskirk, a spokeswoman for the organization. “But this year it was Relay of Life’s 30th anniversary, so we invited some of the [Cumming-Forsyth County] Chamber [of Commerce members] and our sponsors and had about 120 people there.”

Relay for Life is a global event to help raise funds for cancer research. VanBuskirk said that the event features presentations by doctors and those who have dealt with cancer, as well as a ceremony to remember those lost to the disease and honor survivors.

“Our presenting sponsor, Lynn Jackson from Northside Hospital [Forsyth] spoke and gave information about the cancer institute [there],” she said. “We also had a caregiver speak about her son who had leukemia.

“We also had a luminaria lighting ceremony to remember those that have been touched by cancer.”

This year’s Relay for Life is set for May 2 at the Cumming Fairgrounds. The theme will be Carnival of Hope.

“This year, we’re doing something different,” she said. “Usually, our event is overnight from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., but this year we’re moving the event to a Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. … the reason we’re doing that is to hopefully get more participation from the community and bring more awareness to the community.

“All the teams will come and set up their camp sites and decorate their tents for a carnival and have carnival games.”

VanBuskirk said that though Tuesday was the official kickoff, the teams rarely stop raising money to fight cancer.

“Right now we have $30,000, and at kickoff … teams brought in $12,000 to add to that,” VanBuskirk said. “They’ve been fundraising since last May probably. And at Relay for Life, that’s kind of the icing on the cake and they’ll have 12 hours to raise money.”