Community members of Randolph County will come together in Saturday's Relay For Life to raise money and awareness about the second leading cause of death in the United States - cancer.
The Relay will be held from noon to midnight at the Elkins High School track. Kristi Kirkpatrick, co-chair of the Randolph County Relay, said this year's 23 registered teams have brought in 239 participants.
Year-round fundraising efforts collected $36,640, prior to Relay day. Kirkpatrick said the fundraising amount is down compared to previous years. Last year, the Randolph County Relay was able to raise more than $100,000. Money raised in Relay For Life events around the country go to the American Cancer Society for cancer research and to aid in the care of cancer patients, Kirkpatrick said.
Photo courtesy of Brent Kepner
Bobby Doss, prostate cancer survivor, takes part in last year’s Randolph County Relay for Life. This year’s event is set to begin at noon Saturday at Elkins High School.
"This year has been a lot tougher than last year because of the money," she said, blaming the slow-to-recover economy as the root cause of the fundraising decline. "Folks just don't have the money flying around."
Kirkpatrick said she hopes Saturday's Relay will help give a boost to reaching the county's $95,000 goal.
"Even if it is a dollar, every dollar counts," she said of Relay donations.
Relay For Life
Schedule of Events
11 a.m.: Survivor's reception
Noon to 12:30 p.m.: Opening ceremony
12:30 p.m.: Survivor's Lap, Caregiver's Lap, Team Lap
2:30 p.m.: Relay For Life pageant winners recognition
3 to5 p.m.: Tent judging
5:30 p.m.: Corporate sponsorship recognition
9:30 p.m.: Luminary ceremony
11:50 p.m.: Final lap
Midnight: Closing ceremony
Note: Prayer circles will take place throughout the day near the Mt. Caramel Baptist Church tent at 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11 p.m.
Teams will sell a variety of refreshments throughout the day, including pork barbecue, nachos, hot dogs, pepperoni rolls, frozen lemonade and much more.
Relay events will begin with the survivor lunch at 11 a.m. Kirkpatrick said the sit-down luncheon is free to any cancer survivor and anyone presently fighting the disease.
"Even if you were diagnosed yesterday, you are welcome to come to the luncheon. The more survivors we have, the happier we are," she said.
The opening ceremony will take place at noon, with the survivor lap kicking off at 12:30 p.m. It will be followed by the caregiver lap and then the team lap.
Musical entertainment is provided this year by the city of Elkins. The N1YK bluegrass band will perform at 4 and also 5:15 p.m. Other forms of entertainment and activities at the Relay will include a puppet show and Zumba class.
A highlight of the event, literally, is the luminary service, which takes place annually at dark. A luminary can be purchased for $5 to light in honor or memory of a person afflicted by cancer. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 p.m., and luminaries will be available for purchase on Saturday.
"(The luminary ceremony) is the most powerful thing I have ever seen in my life, and most are in memory (of someone who had cancer). Last year the entire track was covered in luminaries," Kirkpatrick said.
To keep the paper luminaries weighted down around the track, Kirkpatrick and her fellow co-chair, Dr. Anne Banfield, have created an inventive idea that also gives back. Sand is commonly used to weigh down luminaries, but often it becomes messy with moisture. To avoid the mess, teams have been asked to bring canned goods to use as weights in the luminaries. Following the ceremony, the cans will be collected and donated to local Catholic Charities West Virginia.
The theme chosen for this year's Relay is "Festival of Hope." Teams have chosen a particular holiday to base their campsite design and decoration around. Kirkpatrick said Relay attendants will see team campsites decorated in a variety of holiday themes, ranging from Cinco de Mayo to Memorial Day. The team's tents will be judged for creativity, ease of identifying theme, ease of identifying educational message, team spirit and overall presentation.
Every team also will have a specific cancer featured at their campsite and will be carrying an educational message at every tent.
"We hope to try to raise as much money and awareness as we can," Kirkpatrick said.
If folks are unable to attend this year's Relay, but wish to make a donation to the cause, they can give online at relayforlife.org.