"Celebrate," "Remember" and "Fight Back" - these are the three focus areas for this year's Cleveland County Relay For Life (CCRFL), the annual event that has a goal of fighting cancer from one end of the county to the other. This year's CCRFL will be on Friday, May 18, from 4 p.m. to midnight at the Cleveland County Fairgrounds in Shelby. The survivor reception will be from 4 - 6 p.m., during which time everyone else is welcome to walk the track. Entertainment, including a live DJ, will also start at 4 p.m. and will continue throughout the night.
"The 'Celebrate' portion of our event will start with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.," says Bryte Scism, chairperson of the CCRFL. "We will start things off by honoring everyone who's been affected by cancer and everyone who has contributed to the success of this year's Relay season.
"The next portion of our celebration will involve more than 500 survivors walking the 'Survivor Lap,'" says Scism. "These people are still alive because of the research done to prevent this disease." The Survivor Lap will take place at 6:15 p.m.
The "Remember" part of the evening will involve the Luminaria Ceremony at 9 p.m.
"During this ceremony we represent everyone touched by cancer with a Luminaria," says Parker Ogden, community development manager of the Southeast Region of the American Cancer Society. "Each light represents a life--a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer, or support for a person still fighting the disease. It's a powerful demonstration that gives people the opportunity to grieve but also offers comfort and hope."
Finally, the "Fight Back" portion of the evening will be highlighted in the Closing Ceremony at 12 midnight.
"Our closing ceremony is the time to commit to take action and help lead the fight for a world free from cancer," says Ogden. "It's a time to celebrate what we've accomplished together and a time to unify for the work that needs to be done moving forward."
Both Ogden and Scism hope Cleveland County residents will join together to help reach the CCRFL's 2018 fundraising goal of $150,000.
"Relay For Life brings people together for a common cause - fighting cancer," says Scism. "The money raised from the CCRFL will go to help the American Cancer Society's mission to eliminate cancer through education, advocacy, research and services."
"Relay For Life is more than an event, it's a gathering of people who all have been touched by cancer. It gives each person a chance to see that no one is in this fight alone," he says. "I have the honor to work for the American Cancer Society, but it's also personal to me because we lost my aunt to cancer in 2010. I never want another person to have to say goodbye to a loved one because of cancer."
For more information, visit the CCRFL web site at www.relayforlife.org/
By April Hoyle Shauf
Special to Community First Media