The Woodward News

June 9, 2013

Relay for Life helping ACS celebrate milestone

Rowynn Ricks
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — You're invited to a special birthday party this Friday night.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) turned 100 this year, and the Woodward Relay for Life will be celebrating this milestone during it's Relay event at Boomer Stadium on Friday, June 14.

"The American Cancer Society's slogan for the past few years has been 'Celebrating More Birthdays,' because each year a cancer survivor survives is another birthday," said Kyla Smith, co-chair for the Woodward Relay.

So Smith said the organizing committee felt it would be doubly appropriate to make the theme for this year's relay a birthday party.

"We're going to decorate the Relay that night with birthday stuff," she said.

And to recognize all the cancer survivors, in addition to applauding them as they make the first lap around the track to start the Relay, Smith said, "we will sing 'Happy Birthday' to them, either at the start of the lap or when they finish."

All local cancer survivors are invited to come participate in the survivors lap, she said.

"We will have some wheelchairs available for survivors who maybe want to participate in the lap, but don't feel like they can walk the whole way," she said.

Beyond the birthday theme, Smith said the Relay will follow the same basic format it does every year.

A hamburger feed will be held at 6 p.m. for survivors and Relay teams, followed by the opening ceremonies for the Relay which will begin at 7 p.m.

In addition to the survivors lap, the opening ceremonies will include a welcome from Smith; a prayer and "Celebrate" speech by Rev. Becky Pierson, whose father is now in remission from cancer; recognition of committee members, volunteers and sponsors; and a team lap, where all the Relay teams are recognized.

"Then people will start walking around the track," Smith said.

Since it is a Relay, team members will take turns throughout the night walking around the track until the event ends at 5 a.m. on Saturday.

Shortly after the Relay starts, while the sun is still up, Smith said "we'll hold the basket auction, where people can bid on different gift baskets,"

Each of the baskets will have a collection of items based on different themes.  This year, she said, "we have a couple of outdoor themed baskets, a Father's Day basket, 2 gardening baskets, and a hair care basket among others."

She said the basket auction is a way for those who may have not been able to put together a Relay team to still help contribute, as the auction is another way the Relay helps to raise money to help fund ACS cancer research.

Several of the Relay teams will also "doing fundraisers at their campsites," she said.

Smith said many teams will offer snacks and refreshments, such as Frito chili pie, popcorn, and cookies, to help give the walkers energy throughout the night, as well as raise more money for ACS.

However, she said, other teams have come up with different fundraisers such as the Woodward Beauty College, which will be offering foot massages to help make sure the walkers' feet don't get too sore during the 10-hour Relay.

The Relay committee will also be selling "Relay related gear such as t-shirts and light up sticks" as a fundraiser, Smith said.

Every year the committee also sells luminaries, which people purchase to honor a loved one who has battled cancer.

Then when the night sky turns dark, around 9:45 p.m., Smith said the luminaries will be lit as part of a ceremony to take time to remember those lost to cancer, salute those still fighting and celebrate the survivors.

As part of this year's luminary ceremony, Smith said she has asked friends of local student Justin Harvey, who recently died from cancer, to speak in remembrance of the young man and help remind those in attendance of the importance of fighting back against cancer.

Smith said the entire community is invited to come participate in the Relay this Friday.

"You don't need to have a team," she said.

And even if you just want to come visit to learn more about the Relay, she said you are more than welcome.

"One of the things we need to get the Relay here built back up to where it was, is we really need spectators to come out and see what the Relay is all about," Smith said.  "Because then they might think 'hey, I might want to do that next year.'"