Kicking off Relay season

Published 9:28 pm Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Sundays ago, this newspaper began publishing a series of articles that will lead up to the Suffolk Rockin’ Relay for Life, an annual event that celebrates cancer survivors, memorializes victims and raises money for research that participants hope will one day result in a cure for cancer.

Suffolk’s version of the American Cancer Society’s nationwide fundraiser harkens back 30 years, before the ACS became involved. Community members would rock all night long in rocking chairs to raise money for cancer research. The event has changed through the years, and this will be the 15th year it has been affiliated with the American Cancer Society, but the goals are still the same.

Today, the event features teams of walkers who circle a predetermined course overnight after spending months in fundraising efforts. Cancer survivors and caregivers take their own laps. There are also children’s activities, games and other entertainment to help keep participants awake during the night. In honor of the Suffolk event’s roots, some teams in the past have even continued the tradition of rocking chairs.

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For many teams, the fun part is raising money in the run-up to the Relay. Teams do everything from bake sales to car washes to yard sales — even a Haunted Forest — to raise money for the effort. Just two Saturdays ago, the Nansemond River Pilot Club held a womanless beauty pageant to raise money.

There is clearly a lot of fun to be had, but the participants never lose sight of the higher goal they’re pursuing — a cure for cancer. “Imagine a world with more birthdays” is the motto used today by the American Cancer Society. A cancer cure would guarantee just such a place.

To support the effort, or to learn more about how to get involved with it, visit