Lace up your shoes, it's Relay time

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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

The Henry County High School football field and track will come alive this Friday, June 27, as Henry County will host the 14th annual Relay for Life celebration.

“If the weather is good, we’ll have at least 2,000 people there,” Earl Holmes, Jr., committee chairman, said.

Henry County Relay for Life raised over $120,000 last year and over $125,000 in 2006. The 2008 goal is $120,000.

“We plan to reach our goal,” Holmes said. “Honestly, with the economy the way it is, we may not. Gas is up and people are spending more money on gas than other things and that’s the reality.”

Since Relay for Life is part of the American Cancer Society, most of the money raised goes toward cancer research and finding a cure for cancer. There are 35 teams registered this year. As always, one member from each team must be walking around the track at all times.

Relay will kick off at 7 p.m. with the traditional survivor’s lap. Survivors will take the first rotation around the football track. There are usually around 35 survivors in attendance, according to Holmes. After the survivor’s lap is complete, the teams will be introduced. After that, there will be a series of activities until the luminary ceremony at 10 p.m.

The luminary ceremony honors both cancer survivors and those who have passed away as well. The lights will be turned off throughout the duration of the ceremony and the candles will be placed in luminaries lining the track.

“After the luminary ceremony, we’ll turn the lights on and have fun all night long,” Holmes said.

Along with the traditional relay events, there are new events this year as well.

“There will be relay races, spirit games, theme laps, a cell phone scavenger hunt and more,” Julie Mann, activities chair, said.

Five theme laps are planned from 2 a.m. until 6 a.m. Themes include 70s/80s, “Tween” Star, pajamas, western wear and crazy hat. People are encouraged to bring clothes and accessories to dress up for each of the laps. For the “Tween” Star lap at 2 a.m., children are encouraged to dress up as their favorite Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or other “tween” star. They will be allowed to sing, dance or lip-sync on stage before taking their lap if desired, Mann said. The cell phone scavenger hunt entails participants finding items on a list like a traditional scavenger hunt, but then taking pictures of the item with their cell phone as proof.

Other planned activities include an “Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader” contest at midnight, an open volleyball tournament beginning at 1 a.m. and live music by Bluesneck beginning at 1 a.m. as well. A DJ will also be on-site playing favorites such as the macarena and the electric slide.

Several changes have been made to Relay for Life by the committee as well. In past years, there was a competition where points would be issued and at the end a traveling trophy would be awarded.

“We want people to be able to come out and have fun and not be focused on the most points and the competition,” Mann said.

Therefore, the contest has been discontinued. It was a lot of stress on the committee and the teams, according to Mann.

“We’re just going to have a good time this year,” Mann said. “We want to keep this a fun event for all ages.”

Relay for Life will run from 7 p.m. June 27 until 7 a.m. June 28 and there will be food available for purchase including homemade ice cream, games and activities all night long.

“Come hungry and enjoy the fun and fellowship. It’s a family night out,” Holmes said. “It’s just a wonderful event for all ages. It’s a great time for families to get together and see people you don’t see very often and renew acquaintances.”

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