The seventh annual South Barry County Relay for Life will be held in less than a month, but there is still time to join the fight against cancer by supporting the 25 teams that will be participating in this year's event.
"I think that most people in our community have been touched in some way by cancer," said Marcia Himes, South Barry County Relay for Life chair. "I would like to see a large crowd at this year's Relay to support the survivors and their families.
"It is also a great way to spend the evening with your family," said Himes. "There will be a lot of great food and activities, and all the money goes to the American Cancer Society to help fund valuable research to find a cure for cancer."
The 2008 Relay for Life event is scheduled to begin at the Cassville Football Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 18 and end at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 19.
Last year, around 70 cancer survivors kicked off the Relay for Life event with the annual Survivor's Lap. Himes hopes to see even more survivors participate in opening ceremonies this year.
"We should have at least 70 this year," said Himes. "Survivors can even show up the night of the Relay and participate. We will have a survivor tent set up and several extra T-shirts available for those who were not able to register before the event."
Individuals interested in participating in the Survivor Lap and third annual Survivor's Dinner, which will be held in the Cassville Primary School cafeteria at 5:30 p.m., can call Ann Taggart at 417-442-3076 to pre-register.
Those who lost their battle with cancer will be remembered during the Relay for Life Luminaria Ceremony, which will be held at 9:30 p.m. on July 18. Community members can recognize friends and family members by purchasing luminarias in their names. The luminarias will be displayed around the Cassville Football Stadium track on the night of the Relay.
The luminaria ceremony will include a slide show presentation with the names and photos of individuals who have lost their fight against cancer.
"Photo placement in the slide show is included in the $5 cost for luminarias," said Himes. "Photos that have been submitted for the slide show can be picked up the night of the Relay."
Individuals interested in purchasing luminarias can call Tara Beck at 342-5813 or Himes at 342-0028.
This year's Relay for Life drew nine more teams than last year's event. During the event, teams will set up creative booths that feature an assortment of food, merchandise and games. All funds raised by the teams during the event will benefit the American Cancer Society.
The 2008 Relay for Life basket auction, which will feature baskets designed and filled by Relay teams, will be held at 7:30 p.m. on July 18. Lane Truman has volunteered to serve as this year's basket auctioneer.
"This year, we have added the Fight Back Ceremony," said Himes. "It will encourage the community to make decisions to fight back against cancer. For example, people can get mammograms, quit smoking or get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test."
The Fight Back Ceremony will be held at 11 p.m. on Friday.
At midnight, beauty contestants will take center stage during the annual Relay for Life Queen Contest. Drag queen contestants will compete to collect the most funds for the American Cancer Society and be crowned the 2008 Relay Queen.
On Saturday morning, a closing ceremony will be held to recognize participants who raised the most funds and displayed the best team spirit during the Relay for Life.
"We have more youth teams participating in the Relay this year," said Himes, "so we have added a recognition for the most funds raised by a youth team."
Teams that raise at least $1,500 will receive bronze recognition. Other honorary fundraising levels include: silver, $3,000; gold, $5,000; and platinum, $10,000.
"We do not have any gold teams yet, but I feel confident that we will on bank night, (July 7)," said Himes. "This year's total fundraising goal is $60,000. Teams have raised over $19,000 already so I think we are doing pretty good."
In addition to the funds raised by the Relay for Life teams, $6,550 has been collected from local businesses and organizations that are serving as 2008 Relay for Life corporate sponsors.
Bronze sponsors include: Hydro Aluminum; Thrivent Financial; Green Mountain Realty, Inc.; Plaza Pharmacy; Maricorp US, LLC; Asbury Land Title; St. John's of Shell Knob; Mz. Trippo's Cleaning Services; Commerce Bank; Willis Insurance; Security Bank; Law Offices of J. Michael Riehn; Freedom Bank of Southern Missouri; Hutchens Construction; Barton's Shell Knob; Mill Street Church of Christ; Cassville FFA; Cassville Democrat; Lane Truman; and George's Processing.
Silver sponsors are Wieser Tent, Cassville Rotary Club and Fasco and Regal Beloit, and St. John's Hospital-Cassville is a 2008 gold sponsor.
Last year, the South Barry County Relay for Life raised over $52,000 for the American Cancer Society. Since the event's inception in Cassville, Relay for Life fundraising efforts have raised over $250,000.
The American Cancer Society has served 75 people in Barry County this year. Services provided included: personal healthcare; education; nutritional supplements; gas gift cards; lodging assistance; wigs; and general information.
For more information on the South Barry County Relay for Life, e-mail Himes at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Kendra Gray, American Cancer Society staff partner, at 417-447-1486.