With the end of February nearing, local organizers have already started thinking summer, as they have an annual event on their minds.
The 16th annual Auglaize County Relay for Life is slated for June 21 and 22, and a theme, committees and teams are forming.
“It takes a while to plan,” Auglaize County Relay for Life Staff Partner Sarah Burke said. “We usually take a month off after Relay and then start talking next year’s Relay.”
Burke is an income development representative for the East Central division of the American Cancer Society, and is the support for committees and teams in Auglaize County as they gear up and organize the Relay for Life event.
Right now is a big time for organizers, because committee and teams are currently forming, and themes and ideas are on the drawing board.
“Things are starting to heat up right now,” Burke said. “It’s not too late to join a team or be on a committee.”
This year’s theme for Relay for Life is “Lights, Camera, Action against Cancer.”
Each team will be selecting a movie to center their booth and activities around.
In addition, each team is thinking of ideas for their team fundraiser. Team Megan is planning a 5K run and walk that will end at the fairgrounds prior to the lumanaria ceremony.
Team Moms will have a special butterfly release at 6 p.m., prior to the opening ceremony, and butterfly pins can be purchased and they will include one live butterfly to release.
Team TSC Purple Stars will once again be doing their tribute book where individuals and businesses can show their support for Relay for Life or a loved one with cancer.
So far, eight teams and 30 participants have signed up.
A basket auction is slated for the schedule of events, along with garage sales and a golf outing.
“Auglaize County has great veteran teams who are passionate about Relay,” Burke said. “They strive to make a bigger and better event. They are a great group of people.”
This is Burke’s first year as staff partner, as she works with community volunteers with fundraising efforts.
“I decided to get involved, because I Relayed myself,” the St. Marys native said. “Anyone that has been affected by cancer has been encouraged to Relay. This is a way to fight back and not feel powerless.”
There are many local services that are provided in the county for people battling with cancer, including Road to Recovery, which is free transportation to and from cancer treatments, transportation assistance, which is milage reimbursement for transportation to and from treatments, free online classes to help with pain management and nutrition and health insurance assistance.
Other services, Hope Lodge, which is for cancer patients and caregivers who must travel for treatment can find free, supporting lodging near major cancer centers and Look Good…Feel Better is a way to learn to cope with hair loss, skins changes.
Each session is taught by a trained cosmetologist and are held at the St. Marys Public Library.
A Wig Salon Program is also available and provides wigs to patients undergoing treatment who have lost their hair.
Burke said many people do not know about these services that are available locally in Auglaize County, and she wants to get the word out to people battling cancer.
She said Relay for Life is such an inspirational event.
“We are starting to see a big difference with the research in numbers,” Burke said. “Research done by the American Cancer Society helps to save 400 lives a day. Relay funds local services, and a good portion goes to research.”
Burke explained there are a couple goals this year for the Relay for Life event, which is to raise $48,000, get more people in the community involved and bring more survivors out.
She shared Relay for Life events in communities across the United States are important.
“It’s through Relay that enables us to raise funds to say we are saving 400 lives a day,” Burke said.
Burke said she is passionate about what she does and is a supporter of Relay for Life because cancer has hit home for her.
Her father and step-sister are both cancer survivors.
“I am very fortunate to have survivors in my family,” Burke said.