The annual Relay For Life of Lehigh Acres will take place this weekend.
The fundraiser will kick off on April 8 at 4 p.m. at the Veterans Park Academy for The Arts, wrapping up on April 9 at 8 a.m. The event raises money to fund research for the American Cancer Society and resources for local cancer patients through the ACS.
Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the ACS. The relay is coordinated in more than 5,200 communities all over the world, all staffed by volunteers.
The local event lasts up to 18 hours, allowing participants to set up team tents at the site and to participate in the team-function activities. As of last week, 24 teams were registered to participate.
"It's a good event for the community because it's made up of volunteers," Terry Inscoe, community manager for the Relay For Life, said. "The people that do this are volunteers from within your community that have come together in support because they've either been touched by cancer themselves or someone they know has had it."
The theme for this year's relay is "Once Upon A Cure."
Each team can set up its campsite based on a theme. The event will feature fundraising activities and games, live entertainment and performances, music, a special dinner for cancer survivors and their caregivers, and more.
The fundraiser is called a relay because each team makes a spirit stick to carry while they walk laps. Team members switch off with one another to walk the laps. One member is meant to be walking with the stick at all times. It represents the idea that cancer never sleeps and patients do not stop fighting.
"All these volunteers like to give back and reach out to the community and get the community involved in helping to raise awareness about the ACS and the things it has to offer in the community," she said.
If you go
Relay For Life of Lehigh Acres
April 8-9 from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.
Veterans Park Academy for The Arts, 49 Homestead Road S.
Benefit American Cancer Society
The relay will open with a welcoming ceremony, followed by the Survivors Lap. This is when cancer survivors and currently cancer patients walk the track. There is then the Caregivers Lap, which honors those who provide support to their loved ones who are battling cancer.
Afterward, the teams start walking laps with their spirit sticks.
During the event, participants can visit team campsites and participate in various activities to raise money for the cause. After sunset, everyone lights a Luminaria to remember and honor those who lost their battle to cancer. A closing ceremony ends the night for those not sleeping onsite at the camps.
"It's just a fun family event that is geared for the community," Inscoe said.
This year, organizers are looking to raise $65,000. Last year's relay raised $55,000.
People do not need to register in advance to participate in the family-friendly event. However, teams must register in advance to reserve a campsite for the fundraiser. The last day to register is April 8.
For more information, visit at: relay.acsevents.org/.
Veterans Park Academy for The Arts is at 49 Homestead Road S.