Relay coming soon

Published 5:42 pm Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Relay For Life of Suffolk is only 13 weeks away, but teams already have begun forming and raising money.

The Relay will begin at 6 p.m. May 17 at Bennett’s Creek Park and run through the night until 6 p.m. the next morning.

More than 30 teams have raised more than $21,000 so far, but there still is plenty of time for more teams and participants to get involved and raise money for the fight against cancer. Organizers hope the final number of teams will be between 75 and 80, and the official fundraising goal is $240,000.

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This year’s co-chair, Heather Howell, has quite a number of reasons to Relay.

“I Relay because I lost my father to cancer seven years ago March 1,” Howell said. Within the last year, she has lost her grandfather and aunt to cancer, and two other aunts are currently battling the disease.

Howell said she wants to find a cure for the disease for the next generation.

“It is a lofty goal to find a cure for cancer, but I hope one day we will, not just for me but for my children, so they never have to go through what I’ve been through.”

At the first Relay For Life event she attended, Howell knew she had found her cause.

“From the moment I relayed, I was hooked,” she said. “It’s truly a humbling, motivating experience to see the survivor lap. No matter what aches and pains you wake up with, sometimes you don’t have anything to complain about.”

Howell said she believes cancer has become too commonplace in America.

“I see that we’re almost numb to cancer,” she said. “People get diagnosed and it’s like, ‘Oh, one more.’ It’s far too common and far too nonchalant, and I want to be rid of it.”

Although it’s for a somber cause and has some serene moments, including the emotional Luminaria Ceremony, Relay is a fun and encouraging event that has something for everyone, including games for kids and activities for adults, Howell said.

“We cater to kids; we cater to older people,” she said. “Everybody has a reason to walk.”

Howell hopes to increase the participation of schools and churches this year, and she believes she is making progress doing that.

“(Suffolk Public Schools) is encouraging all of their buildings to participate,” she said.

For more information about Relay, visit Team captains’ meetings are held the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at King’s Fork High School, but you do not have to be a team captain to come and participate.