“The journey to end cancer starts with a single step.” With that line, Relay for Life of Howard County sets the tone for the annual event that has raised well over $2 million locally for the American Cancer Society.

Cara Roach, ACS community representative, pointed out that Howard County has become a leader in the fight against cancer.

“Last year, the event raised over $230,000 locally,” Roach said. “We have been the most successful Relay for Life event in the state for several years now.”

This year’s goal, according to Roach, is to raise $237,000. At press time, 90 teams with over 800 participants have raised over $107, 000 ahead of the weekend’s events.

The American Cancer Society, celebrating its 100th year, dedicates all of its efforts toward the elimination of the disease through research grants, public health campaigns, patient support, and detection and treatment programs.

Relay for Life began in 1985, when Dr. Gordon Klatt, a surgeon and marathon enthusiast from Tacoma Washington, decided to raise money for the ACS in honor of his patients. He walked for 24 hours and friends paid $25 to walk with him for 30 minutes. That initial walk raised $27,000 and a national Relay for Life movement was born.

The ACS’ Roach emphasized that Relay for Life is not just for walkers, runners, or survivors.

“Cancer touches everyone. So, finding a cure is going to require everyone,” Roach said. “Even if people are unable to walk in the relay, or run in the half marathon, we urge them to come out and support those that do. There are so many fun events that are part of the weekend, and the spirit surrounding Relay makes it such a special atmosphere.”

The “fun events” include a silent auction, a dodgeball tournament, a scavenger hunt, as well as karaoke, a magic show, and a karate demonstration. In addition, a wide array of childrens’ activities will take place at designated campsites. There are also a variety of fitness classes ranging from Yoga to Zumba to stretch and flex, along with the very unique Miss-ter Relay pageant.

Despite the draw of these newer additions, the biggest draw remains two of the more established traditions of Relay for Life.

“The Survivors Lap and Luminaria Ceremony are still the most popular and moving aspects of Relay for Life,” Roach said. “Seeing those who have fought the battle and won, and seeing reminders of the loved ones we’ve lost, brings home the importance of why we relay.”

Relay for Life begins at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 14 at the Howard County Fairgrounds and continues through 3 p.m. the following day. The fairgrounds are located at 610 E. Payton St. in Greentown. For additional information visit relayforlife.org/howardcountyin.

Partial Schedule of Events:
7:00 p.m. – Opening Ceremony & Survivor’s Lap
7:15 p.m. – Caregiver’s Lap
8:00 p.m. – Miss-ster Relay Pageant Begins
8:30 p.m. – Karaoke
9:45 p.m. – Luminaria Ceremony
11:30 p.m. – Fight Back Ceremony
Midnight – Dodgeball tournament
6:00 a.m. Scavenger Hunt
7:00 a.m. Registration for Half Marathon
8:00 a.m. Half Marathon Begins
11:00 a.m. Relay Prince & Princess Pageant
2:00 p.m. Closing Ceremonies
3:00 p.m. Last Lap