Ready to ’12 Relay

Like the people the volunteers of an annual event help to hope, organizers say they hope their efforts this year help the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Greater Auglaize County return to stronger participation numbers.

Wapakoneta resident Laura Kelley, who has been involved since organizers first held a local Relay for Life 15 years ago, is one of this year’s organizers for the event which has moved to the Auglaize County Fairgrounds from Harmon Field and switched to mid-June from mid-May.

Kelley is inviting anyone interested in learning more about this year’s event to attend a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Home Savings Bank, 1 S. Blackhoof St.

“This is our first informational meeting and we are holding it for anybody who wants to find out more information about Relay for Life,” Kelley said of the event with the theme, “A Cure for All Seasons.” “We already have some teams formed and their team captains intend on attending, but this is open for any person who wants to find out more about the event, a person who may want to form a team or who would want to participate in the event.

“I want people to know how easy it is because some people may be intimidated about Relay for Life, but it is really not,” she said. “There are three basic steps  — gather a team of eight to 10 people, whether it is family, friends or co-workers, and sign up, then you raise money and finally you show up for the event and have team members walking the track at all times.”

The Relay for Life event, scheduled to start at 6 p.m. June 22 and end at noon on June 23, begins with a Cancer Survivors Lap celebrating those who have survived cancer or who are currently battling cancer. Later that evening, the Luminaria Ceremony remembers those who have experienced cancer.

The event is to raise money for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Greater Auglaize County and to increase awareness of the programs and serviced offered by the American Cancer Society.

Kelley said her goal is have a minimum of 19 teams and to raise more than $43,000. In the previous 14 years, the event raised a total amount eclipsing $1 million.

Kelley said she also wants to return the event to its fever pitch of a few years ago.

She said the event suffered when the event moved from Harmon Field to the Auglaize County Fairgrounds because it was less visible to passers-by and fewer teams signed up as the numbers dropped from a high of 70 to approximately a dozen. The event also moved from mid-May to mid-June in the same year.

“We want to bring some of the old favorites back and there are changes we want to do to make it exciting again,” Kelley said. “The good thing about having it at the fairgrounds and from a team standpoint is when people are walking and they walk around the midway they can see all the booths and tents which are near the midway and you can talk to people. It is very intimate.”