By Toni Stauffer
The Russell County Relay for Life event will be held May 4 at the Idle Hour Sports Complex’s #9 baseball field, located at 900 Airport Road in Phenix City. The event begins at 6:45 p.m. ET. An alternate location will be provided in case of inclement weather and will be announced soon. “Spirit Night” will be April 16 at Zaxby’s in Phenix City from 5-8 p.m. ET.
Relay for Life is the largest fund-raising event in the country to help find a cure for cancer. A team event, Relay for Life participants take turns in a “Survivor’s Lap,” in which they walk around a track or designated path for a minimum of six hours to a maximum of 24 hours, depending on what event organizers have decided. “Each team is requested to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps,” the Relay for Life Web site states. “Cancer patients don’t stop because they are tired, and for one night, neither do we.” Teams set up themed campsites and collect donations that count toward team fund-raising goals.
Event Leader Dimple Davis has been with Russell County Relay for Life for more than 20 years. She is passionate about the work Relay for Life does to help cancer victims and their families, so much so that she ensures that every dime donated goes to the cause. “I meet so many people who think there is a cure for cancer out there, but there’s not,” she said. “Not yet. We want all of our money to go to the purpose of Relay for Life.” She added, “I don’t know anyone is our community who has not been touched by cancer. We are fighting so hard for a cure. We want a cure.”
There are more than 400 research grants that would not be possible without the funding received by Relay for Life. The money also goes to other programs, like the “Look Good, Feel Better” American Cancer Society program that helps survivors maintain a sense of self-identity by providing make-overs, wigs, bandanas, or hats—whatever helps to lift the spirits of cancer victims—at no cost to them; also, The Hope Lodge in Birmingham which provides a relaxing place for patients and their caregivers to stay during treatment, at no cost to them. “There’s more to it than there appears to be,” Davis said. “This is what I want people in our community to understand.”
Davis wants the community to know that Russell County does have a Relay for Life program and that they need the whole community’s support. “We understand that there are a lot of other activities and other organizations that are very important to a lot of people,” Davis said. “We support some of those as individuals, but there are so many ways to be a part of Relay for Life.”
You can be a sponsor–you don’t have to be a business to be a sponsor or to create a team—and sponsors can be added even up to the day of the event. Anyone can form or join a team. A team can be a group of friends, co-workers, etc., and some form teams in memory of someone they lost to cancer. There is no set number of members for a team.
“Free time” begins at 6 p.m. ET and will last until 6:45 p.m. ET. There will then be 15 minutes of Zumba until Opening Ceremonies at 7 p.m. ET. While some members are walking, there will be activities for all ages going on, including a kids’ activity area with a bounce house. There will also be vendors.
Other big events are the Survivor’s Lap and the Luminaria. Davis thinks everyone should at least experience these two events, if nothing else. The Survivor’s Lap is a celebration and recognition of those who have survived their battle(s) with cancer, or are currently being affected. They will come forward, say their name and receive a pin. There is also a Caregiver’s Lap in recognition of those who give the necessary care to loved ones. The Luminaria is for remembering loved ones lost to cancer and to honor those in treatment. Luminaria bags with candles are personalized with a name and/or message and lit after dark at the event.
Relay for Life depends completely on sponsors, community donations and volunteers, all of which are still needed for the upcoming event. The Relay for Life event can also provide service hours for local high school students.
For more information on how to become a sponsor, team member or volunteer, go to the Russell County Relay for Life Web site: www.relayforlife.org/russellal. Even if you are not a sponsor, team member, or volunteer, that’s okay. You can still go to the event and show your support. “We have a place for everybody,” Davis said.