Help still needed at Relay

Published 8:36 pm Monday, May 14, 2012

A year of planning and preparation all comes together Friday evening at Bennett’s Creek Park, where thousands of people are expected to gather for Suffolk’s Rockin’ Relay for Life, the annual event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to honor those whose lives have been lost to cancer, to support those who are fighting the disease or helping a loved one fight it and to raise money to fund the research that organizers hope will one day lead to a way to beat it.

Relay for Life is a fundraiser with a heart. Its main purpose is clearly to raise money for the fight against cancer. But there’s so much more to it that an outsider attending the event could easily conclude that raising money is low on the list of priorities.

From the survivors’ lap, in which those who have beaten the disease celebrate their cancer-free years, to the caregivers’ lap, which celebrates the dedication of those who look after family or friends with cancer, to the many games and other activities that are planned — the Rockin’ Relay, like other ACS events around the nation, aims to educate and even celebrate.

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There are many ways to support the Relay. Though time is running short, teams can still sign up online at www.suffolkrockinrelay.org to raise money on behalf of the cause and then walk with the rest of the teams during the 12-hour event. Dozens of teams already have taken that step, and though it might be hard to catch up with the top fundraisers, every penny helps in the fight against cancer.

If you’re not into the team aspect of Relay for Life, the cancer society is selling luminarias to folks who want to honor or memorialize a friend or family member. The luminaria ceremony is always a highlight of the Relay, and you can support the event by turning out to see that ceremony or other portions of the Relay. Walkers can use all the moral support they can get. To that end, cancer society volunteers are working to “paint the town purple” prior to the kickoff on Friday. If you’ve got purple ribbon or a purple shirt or some other way to display your support in purple, they’d appreciate even that simple gesture.

And finally, there is a great need for volunteers to help with setup and breakdown Friday and Saturday. There will be tables and chairs and booths and tents to erect and take down, and those jobs are often overlooked by those who would like to help.

For more information about the Relay, and to learn how you can help, visit www.suffolkrockinrelay.org.