Thirty-two teams have registered so far, leaving only a few more to reach this year’s goal of 40 teams, which typically consist of 10 people each.
The Relay for Life in May is the biggest annual fund-raising event for the local American Cancer Society, as it could generate about one-fourth of this year’s goal of $180,000.
While the event will primarily honor cancer survivors and remember those who lost their battle with cancer, it will also provide a colorful mix of food, music, games and entertainment — suited for children as well as adults.
The focus, however, is on the disease.
The first lap — at 7 p.m. on May 14 — is called the survivor lap, followed by the caregiver lap and concluded by the victory lap the next morning at 7 a.m.
Those 12 hours, during which at least one member of each team is supposed to walk around the track at all times, reflect the average treatment of a cancer patient, said James Blalock, a Relay for Life committee member for many years.
The darkness of the night, in a way, mirrors the confusion a person feels when diagnosed with cancer.
“But the next morning, when the sun comes up, then you see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Blalock said.
As in recent years, paper sacks with candles in them will be set up every 2 feet inside the track, and the names of people who did and did not survive the disease will be written on those sacks. At 9 p.m. on May 14, all the lights at Spalding High will be turned off, leaving only the candles burning, while a bagpipe player will provide music.
“Those affected by cancer come together and support each other,” said Dana Helms, co-chairman of the Relay for Life of Spalding County, of the May event.
“There’s not one person walking the face of the earth who is not affected by it,” either personally or through friends, family or simply someone they know, Helms said.
She stressed not only the money but also the awareness raised through the annual event.
“Treatment is not (anymore) what it used to be, and that’s because of events like Relay for Life,” she said.
Those interested in joining the Relay for Life of Spalding County as a team should either visit www.relayforlife.com or attend the group’s next meeting at 6 p.m. April 1 at the Spalding Regional Medical Center’s Women’s Center.