The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life will bring the Cranberry area community together against cancer July 21.
Whether they’re family members, friends, or patients currently undergoing chemo or in remission, the event gathers people whose lives have been touched by cancer.
"Relay For Life is as much an awareness raiser about the progress against cancer as it is a fundraiser,” said Jill Matos, event chair. “Many of the participants will be people who have been dealt with cancer themselves. Their involvement is proof of the progress that has been made in reducing cancer death rates and in the quality of life following cancer treatment.”
With more than 250 people registered online already, local volunteer Erica Dipyatic expects this year's event, held at Cranberry's North Boundary Park, to be big. In previous relays there have been upwards of 400 people at the event—and the numbers grow every year.
The goal for this year's area relay is to raise more than $133,000, which all goes to cancer research or to programs designed to better the lives of cancer patients.
Dipyatic said the American Cancer Society goes far beyond research.
The organization is dedicated to helping people transitioning in their life with cancer, whether it be by buying wigs and scarves, providing education on the dangers of tobacco and sun exposure, or setting up a 24-hour help line with a human voice on the other end, she said.
“All of that helps with the journey,” said Dipyatic, whose grandfather's cancer diagnosis got her involved with the society years ago.
It costs $100 to register a team of two or more for the event. Individuals may register for free and may even show up the day of the walk to register without prior notice.
“It’s a very flexible and accommodating event,” Dipyatic said.
The event begins at 10 a.m. and lasts 24 hours, but relayers don’t have to stay the entire time. In fact, relayers may walk as much, or as little, as they want.
The Relay for Life isn’t just a walk, it involves different events for the whole community, Dipyatic said. There are a number of free family-friendly events throughout the day. This year's '50s-style theme is "Rock N’ Roll Relay."
Entertainment includes games around the outskirts of the park's track and music by local artist Sarah Khatami, as well as a Rockin’ Radio Show, Irish Dancing and Art Madness Action Painter George Williams.
Saturday's Luminaria Ceremony, one of the night most important events, involves hundreds of lights placed on the edge of the track by people who have lost loved ones to cancer or to honor survivors.
“We can’t wait until we don’t need it anymore because we have a cure,” Dipyatic said.
To register for the event, or to volunteer, visit the Relay for Life website or call Nancy at 724-222-6911.