Relay for Life begins Friday in Norris Park

Wednesday, August 6, 2003
Community Hospital photo

Southwest Nebraska's Relay For Life begins 7 p.m. Friday in Norris Park. The event, which runs through the night ending 8 a.m. Saturday, is a unique fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

"Relay is an inspirational night of friends, family and fun," said Barb Bortner, Relay For Life co-chair. "We invite the public to visit the park sometime on Friday evening to participate with us." More than thirty teams are participating this year representing kids, businesses, clubs, churches and families. Relays for the last two years have raised more than $40,000 for the American Cancer Society for cancer patients, prevention and early detection education, advocacy efforts and cancer research.

Cancer survivors are invited to come to Norris Park as early as 6:30 p.m. to register and receive their free T-shirt. To reserve their shirt, call Sheila Snyder's cell phone at 340-3053 and leave their name and T-shirt size.

After introduction of teams, the Relay begins with the Lap of Hope for cancer survivors, led by this year's Honorary Chairperson, Brenda McGuire of McCook.

Following the Lap of Hope, Relay team members join the cancer survivors on the "track." During the Relay For Life, one person from each team is on the track at all times, symbolizing refusal to stop fighting until cancer has been stopped. Meanwhile, team participants and other supporters congregate for entertainment, games, refreshments, prizes, activities, and fellowship throughout the night. This year, more than 300 walkers have registered for the Relay.

Right before dusk, team captains will begin lighting the estimated 2000 luminarias surrounding Norris Park in preparation for the Luminaria Ceremony-the Light of Hope. Each luminaria sack holds a candle and contains the name of a person who has lost the battle to cancer, or in honor of someone still fighting, or in special recognition of someone who has beaten the disease. Luminarias can be purchased for $5 by calling Community Hospital at 345-2650 or contacting any Relay For Life team member.

"It is beautiful when all the bags with candles are illuminated around the track," said Dixie Bethell, luminaria chair and Relay co-chair. "Many of the candles burn the entire night and remind us as we walk of the impact cancer has had upon our loved ones.

"Beginning the Relay at dusk and walking throughout the night with the candles burning symbolizes the fight cancer patients face after they are diagnosed with cancer," Bortner said. "The dark night symbolizes when they are diagnosed with cancer. We walk throughout the long, cold, dark night to remember their state of mind during treatment. The rising of the sun represents the end of their treatment. They see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that life will go on," she said.

During the night, teams will be encouraged with hourly activities including a Midnight Madness hour, 1 a.m. Reflective walk, 3 a.m. cake walk, ice cream sundaes, egg hunt, and "Wake up with the Y" at 5:30 a.m. Breakfast is served for Relay participants at 7a.m. on Saturday. The event closes with the announcement of the total funds raised and a final lap with all participants walking.

Participants and the general public are encouraged to park in the Methodist Church parking lot. One street, East G, will be blocked off from Norris Ave. to East First.

Other activities include:

Haircuts

Cosmetologists from Hamilton's Hair Creations will be on the west side of the band shell from 6-8 p.m. to give haircuts. Adult haircuts are $10. Children's haircuts are $5. Proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

Foot and Leg Massages

Julie Kotchwar from the Green Herb will be on hand on the east side of the band shell to give foot and leg massages to Relay For Life walkers. There is no charge for Relay team participants. A free will donation is welcome.

Teddy Bear Relay

At the Relay, children are asked to walk around the "track" with stuffed Teddy Bears donated by McCook National Bank. Each lap they walk with a bear in their arms will be counted with a star on his tag.

The bears will be sent to Children's Hospital in Omaha with a note telling a child with cancer that other children have walked laps for him or her in the hope for a cure. An adult should accompany children at the park. Each Day For Life

Each Day For Life volunteers will be present at the Relay with the special purpose of educating participants on ways to prevent cancer. Games and information are available for kids and adults encouraging the use of hats, sunscreen, fruits and vegetables and cancer screening tests.

Community Hospital M.A.S.H. Tent

Blood pressure and blood sugar screenings will be available at the Community Hospital M.A.S.H. tent from 7-9 p.m. on Friday evening.

Devotions and Prayer

The Church of Christ camp site will be offering a devotional hour at 10:30 p.m. and the opportunity for prayer throughout the evening.

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