Enthusiasm for the fifth annual Relay for Life of South Barry County is mounting as 18 teams prepare to walk through the night to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Relay activities are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 14 with opening ceremonies that culminate with the honorary survivors' lap around the Cassville High School track. As of Tuesday, 42 survivors have signed up to participate in the Relay opener.
Another popular Relay event is the luminaria ceremony, which will begin at 9 p.m. This year, Ruby Reese, luminaria chairman, has put together a special power point presentation on a big screen that will pay tribute to cancer survivors and victims. To date, 90 luminarias have been reserved.
Luminarias, which have been purchased in honor of those who have lost their battle with cancer and those who are still fighting, will line the track and others will be placed in the stadium bleachers to light up the night with the word "HOPE." Bleachers will be set up so that those who attend the luminaria can view it more comfortably.
Cindy Puryear, chairman of the Relay, said she is thrilled with the community's response to this year's Relay event.
"I'm really pleased with how the community has responded, especially because we've been doing it for several years now," said Puryear. "But so far, we're very comparable to where we have been in the past. In fact, I think we're a little ahead in money raised."
Puryear invites members of the community to attend the Relay even if they are not part of an actual team.
"Our basket auction should be a big draw this year," said Puryear. "People will want to come out and bid on these. We've got a lot of really nice stuff."
The basket auction is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. Donnie Stumpff with Stumpff's Auction Service, will serve as auctioneer. Several of the Relay teams will also be sponsoring silent auctions on several different items, including an acoustic guitar and spa treatments.
Other activities will include: a food contest at 7:30 p.m.; a performance by Tradewinds Band at 10 p.m.; the Queen Contest at midnight; a biscuits and gravy breakfast at 6 a.m.; and closing ceremonies at 6:30 a.m.
In addition to scheduled activities, Relay teams, which will set up tents around the football field, have planned games and food to entertain participants and visitors of all ages throughout the night.
"We hope that the community will visit the Relay and support these hardworking teams in their efforts to raise money for research to battle this dreaded disease," said Puryear.
The 18 teams that have signed up to participate in the Relay for Life have been very busy raising money over the past few months.
For the first time ever, a local team has achieved platinum recognition for their fundraising efforts. As of Monday, the Mercy Me Monkeys from St. John's Hospital-Cassville have raised $10,000, a new local fundraising record.
"That is just phenomenal," said Puryear. "They've just done a really great job. We've never had a team raise that much."
The Moonlight Knights from the Washburn and Seligman area have also been very successful in raising money for the event. That team has reached the gold level by raising $5,000 for the second year in a row.
On July 10, the Relay Committee hosted "Bank Night" and teams turned in money raised so far. According to Puryear, the current fundraising total stands at $29,464.
"Everybody really seems to be having fun," said Puryear. "We've had a great response with people attending the meetings and some are already talking about next year and that's always good to hear."
Puryear said she also appreciates the amount of time and effort put forth by members of the local Relay for Life Committee.
They include: Puryear, chairman; Denise Schnabl, newsletter/recorder; Anne Taggart and Joyce Matthews, cancer survivorship; Ruby Reese and Emily Jackson, luminaria ceremony; Matt Ticknor, onstage entertainment; Mary Collins and Marie Hoff, concessions; Linda Puryear, accountant; Sylvia Sturgeon, basket auction; and Angela Fysh, fun and games.
"This committee has been very good to work with and have put in so much time," said Puryear. "The team captains have been super too."
Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's signature activity. Teams of people camp out at a local high school or park and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event.
In its literature, the American Cancer Society describes Relay for Life as representing "the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated."
For more information about Relay for Life, contact Puryear at 847-3033.