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RFL to rock around the clock

June 13, 2012
Hey, Crawford County. Are you ready to rock around the clock for a good cause?

The American Cancer Society certainly hopes so, as it has set a goal of raising $48,000 at its 12th annual Relay For Life Friday and Saturday.

Bob and Bea Conrad purchase a pulled pork barbecue dinner from the Can Rem Su Relay For Life team Saturday at Marengo United Methodist Church. Photo by Chris Adams
This year's Relay, with a theme of "Rockin' Around the Clock," will feature a 1950s rock-and-roll vibe. However, while participants may feel a bit of nostalgia as they take a trip back to one of America's favorite times, this year's overnight event will feature a first: it will be at the Crawford County 4-H Community Park instead of the Crawford County Junior-Senior High School track.

"We were just looking for a change, something new to reinvigorate the Relay," Autumne Baker, community representative of the ACS's Great Lakes Division, said.

Jean Melton, who for the second consecutive year is serving as co-chair with her daughter, Alicia Lutz, said the set-up at the park, located across S.R. 66 from the high school, should be more convenient for participants.

Laps will be walked around the barn, while team campsites will be inside, she said. The opening ceremony and silent auction will be in the nearby air-conditioned pavilion, with the dinner for survivors and caregivers in its Clover Room, she added.

"So, there won't be quite as much walking for our survivors. They will have a more intimate setting," Melton said, noting the 4-H Council has been a longtime Relay sponsor, allowing the group to use its facilities at no charge.

The survivors and caregivers dinner will be at 6, and every survivor and caregiver is invited, Baker said.

"Once a caregiver, always a caregiver," she said, adding that a cancer patient is a survivor from the moment they are diagnosed.

The opening ceremony, which will be at 7 and is always one of the highlights at Relay, will be reminiscent to a senior prom, with survivors and caregivers as the kings and queens, Baker said. Jessica Stepp will be the featured speaker, sharing her experiences as a caregiver.

Then, at 7:30, Relay will move outside, as survivors and their caregivers, cheered by those in attendance, make their way around the walking track for the Survivor Lap.

The Fight Back ceremony, where attendees are encouraged to pledge to take action to spread awareness of cancer research, treatments and prevention, will be at 8 p.m. It will be followed by the opening of the silent auction at 8:30 (bidding will end at midnight) and team tent judging at 9.

The luminaria ceremony, where the names of cancer survivors as well as those who have lost their battle with the disease are read aloud, will be at 10 p.m. Luminarias, which will line the walking track in their honor, can be purchased for a donation by contacting any team member prior to the Relay or Friday evening before 8 at the event. However, unlike past years, tiki torches will not be available.

"We're doing something better," Angela Crecelius, vice chair and a member of the Patoka Elementary School team, said.

For a $100 donation, "Lights of Hope," helium-filled balloons with a battery-powered light, can be purchased, Baker said.

This year's Relay has 19 teams, up from a year ago, and while only $17,000 had been turned in as of last week, that is about $1,000 more than at that time last year. The final tally for the 2011 Relay was $47,600, and Baker, noting that many teams turn in the donations they have collected just days before the event, believes this year's event will be close to its $48,000 goal.

Plus, Melton noted, several teams will have on-site fundraisers, including selling hamburgers, cupcakes, walking tacos, T-shirts and much more, which will boost the final amount.

The closing ceremony will be at 8 a.m. on Saturday. To help participants stay awake through the night, several activities and theme laps are planned. Some of the theme laps will include Fabulous Fifties, Cruisin' Toward a Cure, American Bandstand, Get Your Bouffant On and Oldies Sitcom, while a few of the activities planned include the Newlywed Game, Musical Chairs, What's My Line game and a dance contest.

Baker, who invited the public to not only donate but to participate, said there are a lot of organizations asking for donations, "but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who hasn't been affected by cancer."

Crecelius, pointing to the advances she has seen firsthand in the treatment of breast cancer, which has run through her family, said it is amazing to think about the impact money raised through the local Relay can have in the fight against cancer.

"To think that some of this money through Relay events, we know it is helping because we are giving researchers the means to add more survivors in that Survivor Lap every year," she said.

For a complete schedule of this year's Relay For Life, see the advertisement on page B3.

Persons currently battling cancer or who need information may call the ACS at 1-800-227-2345. A medically-trained representative is available 24 hours a day.

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