Organizers hope to raise $80,000 to fight cancer

June 14, 2004|by ANDREA ROWLAND


About 300 walkers are expected to circle the track at South Hagerstown High School this weekend to honor cancer survivors and raise funds to help fight the potentially fatal disease.

Washington County Relay for Life 2004 will start at 4 p.m. Friday, June 18, and continue through about 9 a.m. Saturday, June 19. Participants will work in teams, with at least one team member walking at all times.

Cancer, a group of diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells, is the second leading cause of death in the United States. While the American Cancer Society recently reported that overall survival rates are improving for most types of tumors, cancer is still expected to kill more than 560,000 Americans this year alone, according to the American Cancer Society's Web site at The organization also estimates that about 1.4 million new cancer cases - excluding noninvasive carcinoma and basal and squamous cell skin cancers - will be diagnosed in 2004.


The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life events raise funds for research, cancer information hot lines, practical assistance for cancer patients and other programs and services. The ACS funds more than $100 million for research each year - including about $18 million for 49 current research grants in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Web site states.

Washington County relay organizers hope this year to raise $80,000 through registration fees, sponsorships and team fund-raisers, event chairwoman Dee Surrena said.

The Washington County Relay for Life has raised about $400,000 since its start in 1997, said Julie Overbaugh, Winchester, Va.-based community specialist for the American Cancer Society. Sixty percent of all relay proceeds benefit such local American Cancer Society patient services as support groups, transportation to and from medical appointments, pain medication reimbursement programs, educational videos and free wigs and breast prostheses, Overbaugh said.

Relay participants will celebrate the successes of local cancer survivors during the event's Survivors' Reception. Honorees will be invited to tell their stories, walk the relay's first lap, and dip their hands in paint for inclusion on the "Giving Hope a Hand" banner to be framed and donated to the John R. Marsh Cancer Center in Hagerstown, Surrena said. Each cancer survivor who takes part in the relay will receive a "Celebration of Life" medal.

Cancer survivors are encouraged to sign up for the ceremony in advance, but they also may register at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the track.

In addition, luminarias will be lit along the track in memory of cancer victims and in honor of those who've survived the disease. A $10 donation is requested for each luminaria.

Relay for Life also will feature continuous activities and entertainment, including a disc jockey, live music, magic show and clown, Surrena said. The "Midnight Madness" dance party will help walkers get pumped up to relay through the night. The South Hagers-town High School Band Boosters will sell concessions, donating half of all proceeds to Washington County Relay for Life.

If you go...

Washington County Relay for Life

South Hagerstown High School

1101 S. Potomac St.

4 p.m. Friday, June 18, to 9 a.m. Saturday, June 19

Rain or shine

-- Campsite set-up

4 p.m. Friday

-- Survivor reception

6 p.m. Friday

-- Opening ceremonies with firefighters' honor guard presentation and musical entertainment by soloists Rivka Herrera, 8, Dwayne Hawley, and the Unique All-Star Cheerleaders

7 p.m. Friday

-- Magic by Dean Burkett

8:30 p.m. Friday

-- Luminaria ceremony with bagpiper Rick Conrad

9:30 p.m. Friday

-- "Midnight Madness"

12 a.m. Saturday

-- Jim the Plain Clothes Clown

-- 7 a.m. Saturday

-- Closing ceremonies

8 to 9 a.m. Saturday

Registration costs $10. Make checks payable to American Cancer Society and mail to 2654 Valley Ave., Suite B, Winchester, VA 22601.

For more information, call 301-790-1555 or go to on the Web.

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