Relay kicks off soon

Published 9:54 pm Saturday, December 27, 2014

Relay for Life may be more than four months away, but there are a lot of rad things happening leading up to the big day.

The official kickoff for Suffolk’s 2015 Relay will take place Jan. 5 at King’s Fork High School. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. for accounting and registration, and the kickoff starts at 7.

The kickoff will be more like a party this year, said Chelsea Peoples of the American Cancer Society. The event will have an ‘80s theme. Folks are encouraged to wear their best ‘80s gear, and a Zumba instructor will lead guests in a totally tubular dance session.

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“We’re telling everyone to bring three canned foods or a first-time Relayer for a door prize ticket,” Peoples said.

The canned food will be used instead of sand to weigh down the bags for the luminaria ceremony at Relay. Following the event, it will be donated to a local food bank.

Guests at the kickoff also will be able to vote for the 2015 theme and participate in a 50/50 raffle, as well as a special activity to honor loved ones.

For those who want to get on the ball before New Year’s Day, any team that registers Dec. 31 or before will receive its team captain’s shirt in January, rather than right before the Relay.

“It doesn’t have to be a new team,” Peoples said.

There are a couple of major changes to the event this year. It’s still a 12-hour, overnight event, but it begins on Saturday, May 16, rather than on a Friday.

Peoples believes more people will be willing to participate as a result of the new schedule, because they don’t have to rush to the event from work.

It also will begin at 4 p.m. and last until 4 a.m. Previous events have begun a little later in the afternoon and ended later in the morning.

A special religious service will take place near the end of the event, since it is ending on a Sunday, for those people who want to participate but might not be able to make it to their regular church service after staying up all night.

Another change this year is that registration is free, although teams still will have fundraising goals.

“They can come out and support Relay For Life, even if they don’t have a team signed up,” Peoples said.

Other familiar components of the event, however, will stay the same. It still will begin with a survivor’s lap and caregiver’s lap, followed by a survivor’s reception. It takes place at Bennett’s Creek Park, 3000 Bennetts Creek Park Road, which has been its venue since 2011.

The luminaria ceremony will be held around 9 p.m., and the Ms. Relay pageant — featuring men only — will take place around midnight.

Team meetings will take place the first Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at King’s Fork High School. The exception is April, when the meeting has been moved to the second Monday so as not to be the day after Easter.

For more information or to sign up for the event, visit