Cancer survivors from throughout the community will receive a fitting tribute on Friday night when they walk the first lap around Wildcat Stadium to mark the start of the sixth annual Relay for Life of South Barry County.
The survivors' lap will begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by an all-night offering of fundraising events, games and tributes - all taking place at the Cassville football field. A total of 23 teams will be participating in this year's Relay, which raises money for the American Cancer Society. This total represents four more teams than last year.
To date, these teams have raised $36,442.51 for cancer research. The 2007 goal for the local Relay has been set at $60,000. Last year, Relay teams raised $53,000.
Of the 23 teams participating in the relay, the Mercy-Me Monkeys of St. John's Hospital-Cassville are once again leading the charge. The group has already raised over $9,000 with plans to generate more donations during the Relay event.
The Bombers of Security Abstract are the second highest fundraisers, having turned in almost $4,000 in donations so far.
On the night of the Relay, several special events have been scheduled. In addition to the survivors' lap at 7 p.m., a luminaria ceremony will take place at 9 p.m. Ruby Reese, luminaria chairman, has once again put together a power point presentation that pays tribute to cancer survivors and victims. This presentation will be shown on a big screen.
Luminarias, which have been purchased in honor of those who have lost their battle with cancer and those who are still fighting the disease, will be placed in the stadium bleachers to spell out the word "HOPE." Luminarias will also line the track.
A basket auction will be held at 8 p.m. Lane Truman will serve as auctioneer. Relay teams have created a number of baskets filled with valuable items.
The infamous Queen Contest will be held at midnight, and closing ceremonies are slated for 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. In between, Relay teams will be offering a number of games, activities and food at their tents.
"We'd love for people to come out and join us on Friday night," said Kendra Gray, the American Cancer Society staff partner who is helping local volunteers plan this year's Relay. "There will be lots of food and fun and games. We'd love for everyone to join the fun."
In addition to the survivors' lap and luminaria ceremony, area cancer survivors are invited to attend a dinner in their honor, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in the Cassville Primary School's kindergarten cafeteria.
Anyone who would like to attend the free dinner is encouraged to call Anne Taggart at 417-442-3076.
Marcia Himes, this year's Relay chairman, said Relay for Life is about fundraising but is also a way for the community to recognize cancer survivors as well as loved ones who have died of cancer.
"I hope that anyone in the community who is a cancer survivor will join us on Friday night," said Himes. "They can sign up that evening and luminarias can also be purchased during the event.
"I'd also like everyone to know the Relay is free and open to the public," said Himes. "I'd love to have a lot of participation from the community."
Relay for Life Committee members include Himes; Taggart; Reese; April Slye; Mandy Barnes; Jan Severyn; Amy Danford; Steven Mattingly; Sid Allsbury; Denise Schnabl; Kathy Peterson; Emily Jackson; Lindy Paul; Linda Puryear; Joyce Mathews; Matt Ticknor; Carol Coleman; Lisa Mitchell; David Danford; Joe Himes; Mary Ann Nelson; and Rod Severyn.
Himes said she is very pleased with the support her committee has received for the Relay this year.