LOXLEY — Organizers are looking for more than two dozen teams to participate in this year’s Coastal South Baldwin Relay for Life set for Saturday, Sept. 14 at Loxley Municipal Park.
For the second straight year, this is the only Relay for Life planned for Baldwin County, said Jessica Devine, one of the event’s organizers. Last year’s event was held in Foley.
“We’re hoping to make this a big event and want to invite teams from Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, all the way to north of Bay Minette to participate,” said Devine who is co-chairing this year’s event with Lisa Sangster.
“The Game of Relay for Life” is the theme for this year’s event, with a goal of having 24 teams to raise $90,000.
You can start your fundraising team or join an existing team by signing up at relayforlife.org/coastalsouthbaldwinal. Teams are asked to make a $100 minimum donation to the American Cancer Society. There will also be signup opportunities and donation opportunities at the event.
The annual survivor dinner, which is open to all survivors, along with one caregiver per survivor, will be held Thursday, Sept. 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Loxley Civic Center. Devine said the event will feature a catered meal in an elegant, sit-down setting.
“This to me is the most important part of this event,” Devine said. “It is where we get to honor those who have fought the battle against cancer and won, and those who sacrificed so much to care for them. This is our way of showing how much we appreciate them and what they’ve been through.”
Saturday’s festivities will begin at 4 p.m. with a kick off which will all those who have been affected by cancer and everyone who’s contributed to the success of this year’s Relay season, followed by a Survivor/Caregiver Walk with all survivors and caregivers taking the first lap around the venue before being joined by all other participants.
The event will also include food trucks, a carnival-type area with bounce houses and other activities, and live entertainment.
The event will conclude at 8 p.m. with a Luminaria Ceremony, honoring those who have been touched by caner with a lighted bag. You can sign up for a Luminaria bag online when you sign up for the event.
“Each light represents a life — a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer, or a support for a person still fighting the disease,” according to acsevents.org. “It’s a powerful demonstration that gives people the opportunity to grieve but also offers comfort and hope.”
Relay for Life has become a major fundraising event for the American Cancer Society since it began in Tacoma, Wash., in the mid-1980s.
The first event began with just one man, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, who spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium and the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma in May 1985. He ran more than 83 miles.
That first year, nearly 300 friends, family and patients watched as Klatt ran and walked the course. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Klatt for 30 minutes. His efforts raised $27,000.
The following year, with the help of Pat Flynn, Klatt organized the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer, which included 19 teams and raised $33,000. The event now includes more than 4 million participants annually in events nationwide and in more than 20 countries, and has raised nearly $5 billion for cancer research.
As always Friday’s event will kick off with a survivor’s walk. You can sign up as a survivor and participate in the walk, “an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories we’ve achieved over cancer.”
The Lap also serves to recognize and celebrate caregivers at Relay for Life.
Luminarias are also available for purchase for the event. Beginning at around 9 p.m., people who have been touched by cancer and loved ones lost to the disease are remembered during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer and participants often walk a lap in silence.
For more information contact Devine at 251-947-7378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact Sarah English with the American Red Cross, 251-344-9858 or email email@example.com.