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Relay for Life starts Friday night
Fundraiser is at fairgrounds
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going
* What: Forsyth County Relay for Life
* When: Laps and entertainment begin at 5:30 p.m.; opening ceremony and survivors’ lap at 7 p.m.; luminary ceremony at 10 p.m.; closing ceremony at 6:30 a.m. Saturday
* Where: Cumming Fairgrounds
* Online: www.forsythrelayforlife.org.

Get ready to walk all night for a great cause.

This year’s Relay for Life, benefitting the American Cancer Society, begins at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Cumming Fairgrounds.

Suzanne Hendricks, community manager with the organization, said the opening ceremony and survivor’s lap, in which all cancer survivors are invited to participate, will start at 7 p.m.

Hendricks said at least 1,500 people have registered to take part in the event, helping to reach a fundraising goal of $250,000 for cancer research.

She said last year’s event raised $244,000 with about 70 teams of participants.

Hendricks said the event is always popular because it offers something for everyone. 

“This is a fun-filled event for the entire family and a festival type atmosphere,” she said. “At relay, we begin with the celebration of our cancer survivors as they take the first lap around the track, we remember those lost to the disease at the luminary ceremony at 10 p.m. and we fight back against a disease that takes too many through our fundraising efforts.”

One of the survivors taking part in the survivor’s lap will be Steve Barnes, this year’s honorary chairman for the event. Each year the honorary chairman serves as the face of Relay for Life, sharing his or her story at various events.

Barnes, a basketball coach and biology teacher at Forsyth Central High School, was diagnosed three years ago with testicular cancer.

Fortunately, his cancer was caught early before it had spread to any other parts of his body. With surgery and 14 rounds of radiation therapy, he has been in remission since.

Barnes said his faith got him through the ordeal.

“God gave me strength and I relied on Him,” Barnes said.

He said he told his basketball players before he was diagnosed that it was “OK if it’s not cancer and OK if it is.”

“I told them I put my trust in a big God who’s bigger than cancer,” he said.

Barnes has participated in Relay for Life for the past two years as a survivor, and said he’s been honored to share his story this year.

“There’s so many stories out there,” he said. “Everyone who’s been touched by this disease has a story of coming to grips with those words ‘you have cancer.’ I’d love to hear those stories.”

Many of those stories will likely be shared Friday.

“This is a free event for the community,” Hendricks said. “Whether you are a cancer survivor, caregiver, team member walking or running laps, community member who brings their family to the moon walk, have dinner and play games, there is a place for everyone at relay.”