Relay for Life to be June 20

Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Kathi Calahan, 2008 Event Chairperson for the Marshall County Relay for Life, accepts a check from Kyle Jones, comptroller of Marshall Medical Center, this year's presenting sponsor.

Lewisburg, like most small towns, is usually pretty quiet after dark. However, from Friday night, June 20, until Saturday morning, June 21, there will be people awake and having fun as well as raising money for a good cause.

The occasion is the annual Relay for Life, to take place at the Showgrounds on Robin Hood Road.

In a time of rising prices and economic uncertainty, when people are cutting back on a lot of their spending, willingness to support the American Cancer Society seems undiminished.

Event chairperson Kathi Calahan says that so far they have 20 teams signed up, two more than last year, and 214 people committed to walk.

"We have teams that are really competitive," she says. "They like to win on Spirit Points or on the amount of money they've raised."

Fund-raising goes on pretty much all year round, with the money turned in after each event, and Calahan comments, "We're a lot higher than we were last year."

The theme this year is "Relay on Broadway" and each team has picked a Broadway show for their inspiration.

They will be decorating their campsites to reflect their show and in the midnight karaoke contest they will sing a song from their show or, if it's not a musical, the era of their show. Teams will be selling food and holding games at their campsites as another way to raise money.

New teams this year include Sadie's Village, formed by the family and church of Sadie Gentry, the little Marshall County girl who got a Make-a-Wish trip to Disneyworld; Marshall County Chiropractic; Teledyne; and the Marshall County Horsemen's Association.

Festivities start at 6 p.m. Friday, June 20, with a reception for cancer survivors. This is open to any survivor from anywhere -- just show up and sign in.

Then at 7 p.m., the survivors are the first ones to walk a lap of the track. Calahan herself is entitled to walk: she was diagnosed and treated for cancer in 2005, and is cancer free now, though she has a check up every six months just to make sure.

After that the teams start walking. There will be somebody walking until the closing ceremony at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning, except when they pause at 9 p.m. for the luminaria ceremony.

All the lights will be turned off and walking stops while the luminarias are lit and the names of the persons being honored -- cancer survivors or cancer victims -- are read out. Then it's back to walking, enlivened by music, a fireworks display, games and an auction.

Why walk all night? Because cancer never sleeps, and for a cancer sufferer the nighttime is the longest time, when you are alone and afraid with no one to talk to. The American Cancer Society's theme this year is "Celebrate -- Remember -- Fight Back to Save Lives."

It's going to be a 24-hour day for Calahan and the committee members, but she's looking forward to it, saying, "It's just fun. There's a lot of solemn times, but for the most part we go out there and have fun."