Over one million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year and Gulf County is hosting two Relay for Life events to raise money and awareness in order to fight the disease.
Relay for Life is an overnight community fundraising walk to benefit the American Cancer Society.
The event honors not just cancer survivors, but the memories of those who have lost the battle and those who continue to fight.
Teams are formed in advance and compete to raise money, both leading up to and at the relay itself.
During the 18-hour-long family-friendly event, members of each team take turns walking around a track and must keep one person moving at all times.
Gulf County Tourist Development Council business manager, Kelli Jackson is the marketing chairperson for Gulf County’s Relay events.
She became involved after attending a relay several years ago with a friend. She learned about the ACS, the deep meaning behind the event and how the money went to cancer-prevention research and knew it was a cause she wanted to support.
This is her first year on the committee for Gulf County.
“It lets us honor both the friends we have lost and the survivors,” said Jackson.
The first Relay event will be held on April 19 at the Wewahitchka Junior/Senior High School football field.
The theme for the event is “Carnival of Hope” and the field will be full of games, activities, and classic fair treats like popcorn and cotton candy. The event starts at 6 p.m. CT and music will be provided by local DJ, Byron Barlow
The Monopoly board game will be the theme of the second event, held at the Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School football field on April 26.
Activities include a Ms. Relay Pageant and additional family events.
The PSJ relay kicks off at 6 p.m. ET.
In traditional Relay fashion, both events will start with a “survivor’s lap” to honor those and the caregivers of those who have fought and defeated cancer.
The Luminaria ceremony will take place at 9 p.m. local time on both nights. White paper bags are set around the track with the names, photos or drawings of those whose lives have been affected by cancer. As the sun sets, candles inside the bags are lit in tribute.
“It’s such a great way for the community to come together,” said Jackson.
Funds from the event will be donated to the ACS to help in the research and prevention of cancer and to help support their additional services.
The Hope Lodge is a home away from home for out-of-town cancer patients a comfortable place to stay at little to no cost.
The Hope Closet provides wigs to those undergoing chemotherapy treatments and the Road to Recovery has a circuit of volunteers who drive patients to and from treatment appointments.
Anyone wishing to participate in the event or the survivor’s lap should contact Kelli Jackson at 850-819-1564.
Relay for Life is just one of many ways to become involved in the fight against cancer. For more information visit www.cancer.org.