Relay for Life festivities kick off this Friday night in Cassville

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The seventh annual South Barry County Relay for Life will begin at the Cassville Football Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 18 and end at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 19.

During the 12-hour event, teams of eight to 15 individuals walk, jog or run the Cassville track to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.

Cancer survivors will kick off the event by completing the first trip around the track on Friday evening. This year, over 50 survivors will be honored during the annual Survivor Lap. Survivor Jordan Bailey, of Cassville, will sing the "Star Spangled Banner" during the opening ceremony.

This year's Relay for Life will include a basket auction, a luminaria ceremony, the Fight Back Ceremony, a queen contest and a variety of other entertaining activities.

The annual Relay for Life basket auction will begin at 7:30 p.m. Lane Truman has volunteered to serve as this year's auctioneer.

Relay for Life teams gather an assortment of prizes from corporate sponsors for the basket auction, which draws a crowd of bidders each year. Past prizes have included gift certificates for area businesses and restaurants. All auction proceeds help boost the Relay for Life fundraising total.

A moment of silence will be observed at 9:30 p.m. for all of those who have lost their battles with cancer. This year, over 150 luminarias have been purchased in honor and remembrance of area residents. The luminarias will be placed around the track to light the way for Relay walkers.

Community members can recognize friends and loved ones by purchasing luminarias in their names. A luminaria form appears on page 13 of this week's edition of the Cassville Democrat. Luminarias can also be purchased at a booth that will be set up at the Relay for Life event.

A special slide show presentation will feature the names and photos of the luminaria honorees. Photo placement in the slide show is included in the $5 luminaria cost.

New to the local Relay for Life event is the Fight Back Ceremony, which will be held at 11 p.m.

"The Fight Back Ceremony will encourage the community to make decisions to fight back against cancer," said Marcia Himes, South Barry County Relay for Life chair. "For example, people can get mammograms, quit smoking or get a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test."

Beauty contestants will take center state during the annual Relay for Life Queen Contest, which will be held at midnight.

Each year, drag queen contestants compete to collect the most funds for the American Cancer Society by entertaining the large Relay crowd with song and dance and begging attendees for money.

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.

Teams that raise at least $1,500 will achieve bronze recognition. Other fundraising levels that will receive recognition include: $3,000, silver; $5,000, gold; and $10,000 platinum.

The Mercy Me Monkeys, which are led by team captain Mandy Barnes, have already reached the gold fundraising level.

"All of us have had close family members who have died from cancer," said Barnes. "We've all seen the devastating effects cancer has had on us and we don't want to see others or our children go through that."

The nine-member Mercy Me Monkeys team has raised $9,800 to date, said Barnes. The team members plan to surpass the platinum fundraising level for the third year in the row.

"I have a very good core team," said Barnes. "They are extremely motivated. Two of our members have raised over $3,000 individually and a couple others will soon push past the $1,000 mark.

"We really haven't had any major activities," said Barnes. "We've raised funds by getting out to talk to people and make them aware of what we do for the Relay."

During the Relay for Life, the Mercy Me Monkeys along with 24 other teams participating in this year's event will assemble creative booths around the track that feature an assortment of food, merchandise and games. All funds raised by the teams during the event will benefit the American Cancer Society.

"I think that most people in our community have been touched in some way by cancer," said Himes. "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 Committee, which established a $60,000 fundraising goal, has raised over $40,000 including $6,550 from local businesses and organizations.

Corporate 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; George's Processing; Wieser Tent; Cassville Rotary Club; Fasco and Regal Beloit; and St. John's Hospital-Cassville.

Relay for Life began in 1985, when a Tacoma, Wash., American Cancer Society volunteer named Gordy Klatt ran and walked on a local track for 24 hours. Klatt, who is a surgeon, raised $27,000 for the Society.

Survivors interested in pre-registering for opening ceremonies, should call Ann Taggart at 417-442-3076. For information on ordering a luminaria, call Tara Beck at 342-5813 or Himes at 342-0028.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: