Participants and supporters of Sampson County Relay For Life gathered Tuesday night at Grove Baptist Church to discuss matters such as collecting donations to help with the fight against cancer.
Locally, the theme for 2016 is “Kicking Cancer,” an based on bluegrass music. The national theme is “Paint Your World Purple.” The relay is scheduled for 4 p.m. June 3 at Clinton High School and preparation will take place before with meetings each month for team representative or team captains.
Relay For Life is an overnight event with a mission to celebrate survivors and raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society. Teams of people come together to take turns walking or running laps. The goal is to have at least one team member on the track during the event.
Angela Burns, community manager for Relay For Life, made presentations regarding the importance of joining for research and assisting cancer patients with trips for medical treatments. In 2015, 22 teams and more than 100 participants. A goal for Burns is to have 30 teams and 1,000 participants this year.
Last year’s event raised more than $125,000. According to the website (www.relayforlife.org/sampsonnc), eight teams and 21 participants have raised more than $5,000 as of Wednesday.
“It’s absolutely important that we get a good kick-off,” said Carmine Colantuono, public information officer for Sampson County Relay For Life. “It gives us good momentum going into the year.”
Like Burns, Colantuono is looking forward to teams joining the fight against cancer. He added that participants become excited about the effort.
“It’s a very important and it’s the culmination of a lot of effort up to that point,” said.
Last year, the event began with the entrance of the Relay torch and opening remarks, Cancer Survivor Victory Walk and the Luminaries Ceremony. It will also include a balloon release.
The foundation for Relay For Life began in the mid-1980s when creator Gordon Klatt when he spent 24 hours running and walking around a track at Baker Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. For his work, he raised $27,000 through pledges to fight cancer. During the following year, others joined him and raised $33,000. The success continued with Relay For Life events being held throughout the world. Klatt died Aug. 3, 2014 from heart failure after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 71.
Burns said teams may sign up to participate up until the day of the event.
“It’s something that’s always open,” she said. “We never close that.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.