Every year on the first weekend of June, the football stadium at Clinton High School is illuminated with candles of hope as part of the yearly Relay for Life celebration.
This year’s event is scheduled for Friday, with gates opening at 4 p.m. and activities scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
“Relay for Life is a great event that raises money for cancer research with a goal of beating cancer,” Carmine Colantuono, one of the event’s coordinators said. “It’s also a great time to fellowship and strengthen the community and get people who have survived and beaten the disease together.”
Last year, the event that brought in a crowd of more than 2,400 people, raised just over $100,000 to be used towards cancer research. According to Colantuono, this year’s goal is to meet last year’s amount, but doubling that would be great.
“We would love to double what we raised last year,” Colantuono said.
This year’s theme is Hands of Hope — a subject Colantuono says Relay for Life is all about.
“Relay for Life is about giving hope to those who may feel like they don’t have any,” Colantuono says. “We can gather on this special night and give inspiration to those who are just being diagnosed or have been a survivor for many years.”
The first lap of Friday night will be for all those who have survived or are battling cancer now. The second lap will bring those who have served as caregivers over the years and then all laps following are for everyone.
“We celebrate the caregivers because they are there to hold the survivors and get them through the difficult time,” Colantuono shared.
Just as dark falls across the stadium, the luminaries will be lighted — with each flame symbolizing the hope each survivor and cancer patient should have.
“The largest hope is the community coming out so that they can let the people know there is hope,” Colantuono said. “We want the survivors to know they are loved and be there as a community to support them.”
Colantuono and the Relay for Life committee say there are about 22 teams that are registered to have some type of booth set up during Friday night’s event. There are more teams registered and teams can continue to register through the event.
In addition to the survivor walk Friday night, there are other events scheduled to take place. A beach music band will perform from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The Miss Relay for Life Star and Miss Relay for Life Ambassador will be announced at 9 p.m. Various events will continue through the night, with the closing ceremony at 11:45 p.m.