By TRAVIS HANDY
May is drawing closer, which means Relay for Life is just around the corner. The organizing committee for Pulaski County’s annual American Cancer Society fundraiser is busy putting together final details for this year’s event and teams are excitedly raising money for the cause throughout our community.
During the April committee meeting, organizers discussed two events leading up to the 12-hour relay, the first of which will be the annual Survivors’ Dinner. This year’s dinner will be held Sunday, April 21 at Dublin United Methodist Church, beginning at 2 p.m.
The survivor dinner will be open to any cancer survivor or anyone currently fighting cancer. Small gifts and a free meal will be provided for survivors and their caregivers, and a youth group from a Wytheville church will provide entertainment during the dinner.
The next event on the list is Team Appreciation Night, when team captains will have an opportunity to turn in money raised to date and collect event t-shirts for their teams. Team Appreciation Night will be held in the conference room at Pulaski Health and Rehab Center, across route 11 from LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski. This will also be an opportunity for teams to sign up for their designated campsites for the night of the walk and take care of any other business before the walk, such as paperwork for food vending, and registering new teams and team members.
The main event, Pulaski County Relay for Life, will be held from 6 p.m. Friday, May 17 through 6 a.m. Saturday, May 18, with celebration and remembrance lasting throughout the entire night. The theme this year is “Rockin’ for a Cure,” and teams are asked to decorate and dress in 50s and 60s style. Although teams and participants are encouraged to pre-register for the event, there will be a registration tent available for new registrations on Relay night.
Participants who plan to stay overnight and camp are allowed to begin setting up their campsites at noon May 17. New teams are reminded to bring camping tents, chairs, blankets and other things they would need for their overnight stay. No pets will be allowed at the event.
Food vendors or teams planning to prepare food during the relay event on May 17 need to fill out appropriate paperwork for the Virginia Department of Health, which is being handled by a Relay committee member. The permit paperwork must be filled out prior to the event, and anyone interested in food vending during the event is encouraged to contact Robbie Morris at email@example.com to acquire information as well as forms.
Area food vendors are encouraged to come out and show their support on Relay night. In order to sell food at the event, vendors must donate at least 30 percent of proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
Entertainment will be provided throughout the night, by The Traditions, Magic Moments, Valley Elite Allstars, Acoustic Crossroads and Jason Chrisley. The event will also include a midnight Zumba session.
The event will kick off with an opening ceremony and survivor lap at 6 p.m., when participants are encouraged to line the track to celebrate and cheer on survivors and those who are currently engaged in their personal battles with cancer. Other ceremonies will include the “luminaria” ceremony, a moving, silent and reverent time for remembrance of those who have lost their battles, as the luminaries honoring those who have passed line the walking track.
The final ceremony, held in the early morning hours near the end of the event, is called “Fight Back,” and serves as a reminder that although the event is drawing to a close, the battle against cancer is not over.
The speaker for the remembrance ceremony will be Stacy Viers, owner of Unique Salon in Fairlawn. Viers cut her hair in November 2012 and donated it to Locks of Love in honor of her sister-in-law who had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Her donation to Locks of Love was accompanied over $10,000 raised by Viers in her Fairlawn salon.
Luminaria bags will be available from team members and captains before the event as well as on the night of the event. During the remembrance ceremony, a slideshow will be played, which will include photos of people who have been lost to the disease as well as people still fighting. To include a photo in the slide show requires a $5 donation to the cause, and photos can be submitted to Dennis Greene by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the person’s name, date of birth and date of passing.
In the days leading up to the event, organizers and teams will be selling purple ribbons as part of their “Paint the Town Purple” campaign. Purple ribbons will be sold to area businesses for $3 and can be obtained by contacting a team captain, or Erika Tolbert at Erika.Tolbert@cancer.org or the event Chairperson, Casey Adams, at email@example.com.
To date, Relay for Life of Pulaski County has raised over $29,000, has 29 teams and at least 211 participants registered. Dublin Middle and Snowville and Pulaski elementary schools have also joined the fight and will hold fundraisers of their own. Students will hold a coin drive at SES; a competition between classes to see who can raise the most money. DMS and PES will hold mini-relays on April 25 and 26, respectively.
“This is a good opportunity for people to come out and show support for cancer survivors as well as fight back against cancer and help to provide research and services to cancer patients,” said American Cancer Society Community Leader Erika Tolbert.
Anyone interested in becoming involved is encouraged to contact one of the organizers or team captains in the community. Also keep an eye on The Southwest Times’ event calendar for upcoming fundraising events allowing the community to provide monetary support to the cause.