It is a way to raise money for research — and awareness — to support those who have cancer. It also honors and celebrates cancer survivors and remembers loved ones who lost their battle with the disease.
Douglas County will celebrate, honor and remember those affected by cancer Friday at Deer Lick Park beginning with a reception for survivors and caregivers at 5:30 p.m. and an opening ceremony at 6:45 p.m. in its 17th annual event, according to Debbie Freeman, local American Cancer Society representative. The closing ceremony is set for Saturday at 7:30 a.m.. The relay hasn’t even begun, but 65 teams and 1,157 participants already have raised more than $73,000 in Douglas County alone.
Teams are primarily made up of schools, government entities, law enforcement, churches and businesses. Topping them all is the Douglasville Police Department, co-chaired by Beth Phillips and Detective Donna Kimbrell. With 52 team members, the department has raised more than $16,600 this year, topping last year’s efforts of $10,000.
“We have a team returning to us this year,” said Freeman. “Tyco Industries came back this year and have raised over $11,000. They are doing a great job.”
The school system and individual schools make up the lion’s share of Relay for Life participants.
“We have the school system on board with the central office and the transportation department,” said Freeman. “One of our top teams, the central office — co-captained by Barbara Turner and Melanie Nicholson — has 70 team members raising over $6,300.”
Douglas County Relay’s goal is to raise $174,000. Last year, the county brought in $165,000 from programs like The Road to Recovery, which helps provide transportation to patients going in for treatment.
“There are 30 patients a week who are not getting to treatment due to lack of transportation,” she explained.
A Look Good, Feel Good program offers two-hour classes for cancer patients to help them with such toiletries as skin care, applying makeup properly and how to wear a wig correctly.
Often a cancer patient must travel many miles to take treatment. The Winn-Dixie Hope Lodge, located in Decatur, is there to provide a “home away from home” for them and a caregiver when traveling more than 40 miles from home. Not only is it free, but there is no time limit on how long you can stay, said Freeman.
“Relay funds all of these things,” she said.
The event will go on, rain or shine, explained Freeman.
“Relay is supposed to mirror a cancer patient’s day and journey,” she said. While the public is encouraged to come out and support the event and all of the onsite fundraisers, she encouraged everyone to take advantage of the free shuttle service from the Douglasville Police Department and Mount Carmel Elementary School lots on Fairburn Road. The shuttle will run from 4:30 p.m. to midnight, allowing cancer survivors and caregivers close, on-site parking.
Information: (770) 429-1624 or e-mail Debbie Freeman at Debbie.firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.relayforlife.org.