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Austintown Relay for Life to kick off Friday

June 9, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
The Austintown Relay for Life is set to take place this Friday and Saturday at Falcon Stadium and event promoters are hoping to have as succesful an event as was seen last year.

“Last year’s goal was $72,000,” said American Cancer Society staff partner Jennifer Arden. “We blew that out of the water and raised $100,000.”

She said expectations were set higher this year and the goal has been set at raising $106,000. As of Monday, there were 26 teams registered that will help work towards that goal.

The big change in this year’s event will be the location of tent city where the teams can set up camp and where the survivor’s tent is located. In past years, it has been set up on the practice field behind the athletic center. This year, it will be placed behind the East grandstand between the stadium and AMS.

“We usually have around 20 tents, plus a large survivors tent,” Arden said.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, June 10 on the Fitch track. The opening ceremony will be followed by the survivor’s lap in which cancer survivors will walk and officially open the 24-hour relay.

Arden said the neatest part of the Austintown Relay is the luminary. People purchase the candles and bags and can dedicate it to the memory of someone. The Luminaria Ceremony remembers those who have experienced cancer and when the luminary laps begin, each name will be read.

“We typically get 600-700,” Arden said.

Not all of the luminary will be on the track though. Arden said some will be placed in the stands to spell out something. During the lumniary laps, all the stadium lights are turned out and only the candles provide light for the walkers.

“It is something to see,” Arden said.

The relay will finish up Saturday afternoon and if all goes well, Austintown will meet or exceed its goal for 2011.

For those who aren’t familiar with Relay for Life, Arden provided a little history of how it began.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s national signature activity. Relay began in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., by Dr. Gordon Klatt. He ran and walked on a local track for 24 hours, traveling a total of 81 miles and raising $27,000. Since Dr. Klatt’s one-man marathon, millions of people nationwide have passed the baton and raised millions of dollars for cancer research, education, advocacy and patient service. In 2009, Relay For Life raised $15.7 million in Ohio alone.

Today the trend continues local with Relay events in Boardman, Austintown and Poland as well as nearby communities. Events have games, music, live entertainment and pep rallies to encourage teams to keep pushing ahead all through the night. Teams are made up of eight to 15 people. During the event, at least one member of each team is walking or running the track at all times.



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