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Relay for Life of Forsyth County kicks off 2017 season
WEB HOPE sign

CUMMING -- Relay for Life of Forsyth County is kicking off 2017 in a Seussical fashion, having recently announced the theme of this year’s event: “one wish, two wish, I wish, you wish for a cure.” 

Relay staff made the announcement at a kickoff event at Northside Hospital-Forsyth Thursday evening and set the date for this year’s fundraiser: Friday, May 5 from 6 p.m. to midnight. 

The event, the American Cancer Society’s annual signature fundraiser, will be held, as in previous years, at the Cumming Fairgrounds. 

Relay, an international campaign, is a team event where participants walk around a track for six to 24 hours, depending on the length of the relay. 

“Each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps,” the organization’s website says. “Cancer patients don't stop because they're tired, and for one night, neither do we.” 

Thursday served as an introduction to the 2017 season in Forsyth County and an information session for team leaders and participants. 

“Our Relay for Life season runs from fall to fall, but we host our big fundraising event in early May or end of April,” said Megan Edel, Relay for Life of Forsyth County co-leader. “We kick off the season in January sometime and we get people together and let them know it’s time to start fundraising, time to start moving, and answer a lot of questions. It’s just time to celebrate and get [Relay] kicked off.” 

In 2016, the county’s team raised $261,772 in gross funds, totaling $242,379 in net profit. It also had 57 registered teams, with more than 200 registered cancer survivors. 

Of the nearly $262,000 raised, $52,151 came from sponsorships. 

This year, Edel said, Relay is upping its goal, hoping to raise a gross amount of $275,000, which translates to a net of $252,500. 

It is looking to bring in $55,000 in sponsorship money and to register 62 teams. It also wants to register 300 cancer survivors. 

The international event was first started 31 years ago by one man, Edel said. 

“He walked around a track for 24 hours and gained attention because people were like, ‘What is this dude doing?’” she said. “As the years went on, he started getting sponsorships and people wanted to get involved so he was like, ‘let’s make it like a relay race.’ And now it’s just huge.” 

While the county’s event is only scheduled for six hours this year, it will function similar to a tailgate, Edel said. 

“At the event, we line the tracks with tents, like a tailgate,” she said. “They have on-site fundraising and each team has one person walking the track the whole night and as you go from tent to tent, you can buy goodies and food and trinkets and all that, and all the money goes back to the [American Cancer Society.] It’s fun – it’s just a good time.” 

At the fundraiser, participants are welcomed in an opening ceremony, followed by a survivor lap, where cancer survivors and those currently affected by cancer walk the track, cheered on by attendees. 

Then follows the caregiver lap, which recognizes people who have provided support for their loved once during treatment. 

Finally, participants are invited to walk the track as teams or individuals. 

Relay for Life events also hold a Luminaria ceremony, which remembers those who have died from cancer. It also serves to show cancer patients they are not alone. 

Closing ceremonies finish the event. 

For more information or to register for Forsyth County’s event, visit relay.acsevents.org/.