Scheduled to begin Friday, the American Cancer Society's biggest fund-raiser, “Relay For Life,” will begin at Huff Park in Harlan. This year, about 14 teams are signed up to walk hundreds of laps around the park's walking track, all for the sake of helping to find a cure.
“And with more than 800 Harlan Countians diagnosed with cancer over a four-year period, and 466 of those dying of cancer, it's important that Harlan Countians get involved in this fight,” said Marti Harris, the American Cancer Society's Community Representative.
The Harlan County Relay For Life will get started at 7 p.m. on Friday. As in years past, the relay will begin with the survivors lap. Harris said cancer survivors wishing to participate in the relay's traditional first lap should register starting at 6:45 p.m.
Harris also said there will be plenty of activities, fun and entertainment to keep team participants enthused and energized until the relay concludes at 7 a.m. on Saturday.
Taking place at 8 p.m. on Friday night is “Relay Idol,” and the public is welcomed to join. Participants are encouraged to bring their own karaoke machines and compete for the title, which will be decided by a monetary vote.
At 10 p.m., the relay's luminary ceremony will take place. During this moving portion of the relay, candles are lit along the walking track in memory of lost loved ones as well as in honor of those battling cancer.
“Each luminary represents the love that families and friends have for a survivor who has won the battle against cancer or of the memory of someone no longer with us,” said Rosemary Saylor, chair of the luminary ceremony committee. “Hundreds of these beacons of hope will illuminate Huff Park, and it will be a poignant reminder of why we continue this fight.”
The luminaries are decorated with the names of those who have battled cancer and then lit. They're left glowing throughout the night, Saylor said, to remind participants of the “incredible importance of their contributions.”
At 11 p.m., the relay will take more of a lighthearted turn with the “Dude Looks Like A Lady” contest. Monetary votes will also be the deciding factor in this event, where male team members will be dressing in woman's attire for the title.
Last year, Harlan County's Relay For Life raised $26,000 for the American Cancer Society. The most the county ever raised, according to Harris, was $34,000.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life began in 1985 and remains a celebration of survivorship and remembrance that raises funds for and awareness of the fight against cancer.
Harris said relay funds go for cancer research, educational activities, advocacy efforts and patient services.