BATESVILLE — Ripley County Relay for Life committee members and teams are getting ready for the annual 24-hour event.
“We do not have a specific theme this year,” reports event chair Jeni Schnebelt. “The committee decided early on to have a purple party instead to focus on the courage it takes to fight cancer!
“Right now we have 27 teams registered, but hope to have more .... We have 263 participants registered through these 27 teams.”
The Cross Plains resident reveals, “We have a full 24 hours of family fun activities planned. There will be live bands, kids’ games and activities, Relay's Got Talent, purse auction, silent auction, Relay Olympics and so many more activities ..,. There will also be lots of wonderful food being served.”
Participants will also see some changes. One of the most noticeable “will be that we have moved the survivor tent next to the track, so that they can be a part of all of the activities going on. This will also offer a covered area with tables and chairs for everyone to come and sit to watch the activities happening on the stage. We are having a ‘Coneys for a Cure’ lunch and a barbecue dinner, in addition to all of the other food being offered, and we have a team performing massages for $1 per minute for the entire 24 hours.”
Survivors are the VIPs at the event. “After opening ceremonies, we turn our attention to the survivors by them walking the first lap around the track and lighting the relay torch, while being honored and applauded by all participants and guests. Being a part of the survivors lap allows them to celebrate what they have overcome while inspiring and motivating their community to take up the fight against this disease.
“Following that lap, a breakfast is hosted in their honor, where they receive special T-shirts and gift bags. Survivors are the proof that cancer can be fought and won!” she points out.
“I have always been passionate about cancer research and finding a cure, as it has affected many people throughout my life. In 2003, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and it really hit home for me. Then in 2010, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I relay so that my children and my nieces and nephew never have to hear the words, ‘You have cancer.’ When approached about becoming the event chair for this year's relay, I couldn't say no. I felt that this would be an awesome opportunity for me to make a difference and to be able to spread awareness.”
Schnebelt’s favorite parts of the relay are the Luminaria Ceremony and Survivors’ Breakfast. “The Luminaria Ceremony is a time for participants to gather and remember those who have fallen victim to cancer. Guest speakers are invited to share their stories, and candles are lit in remembrance of a loved one .... (Then) participants walk a lap around the track in silence to give respect to those who have fallen ill with cancer or to those whose lives were lost.
“A Survivor Breakfast is held for survivors in the community to come together and share their experiences with cancer. It is an opportunity for participants to reach out and connect with survivors. The Survivor Lap, which signifies the start of relay, is used to distinguish the survivors and celebrate their victory.”
The fundraising goal for 2012 is $110,000. Proceeds will go toward cancer research and helping patients.
Schnebelt adds, “Relay for Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease. Thanks in part to generous contributions to Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society helps people to get well, stay well and find cures to fight back against cancer.”
She also encourages people to join the ACS Cancer Action Network (www.acscan.org). It is “the nation’s leading cancer organization that is working every day to make cancer issues a national priority. Many of the most important decisions about cancer are made outside of the doctor's office. They are made by your state Legislature, in Congress and in the White House. ACS CAN empowers regular people to be part of the growing national movement that is fighting back against cancer.”
Diane Raver can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 114; or diane.raver@ batesvilleheraldtribune.com.