Relay of hope

Relay for Life raises $162K before Friday night event

From left, Jan, Bradley, Ian and Lance Maclaughlin carry the banner on the first lap for cancer survivors Friday at the 2012 Cole County Relay for Life. The 2013 Relay is scheduled for this weekend, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.

From left, Jan, Bradley, Ian and Lance Maclaughlin carry the banner on the first lap for cancer survivors Friday at the 2012 Cole County Relay for Life. The 2013 Relay is scheduled for this weekend, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday.

Are you ready to let your secret inner superhero out of the phone booth? 

The 2013 Cole County Relay for Life — one of the largest fundraisers in Missouri for the American Cancer Society — kicks off Friday night with the theme, “Saving Lives Through Hope.”

The event starts at 6 p.m. Friday and ends at 6 a.m. Saturday, and is held at the Jaycee Cole County Fairgrounds.

This overnight community fundraising walk asks teams of people to take turns walking around the track; in the meantime, people camp out in a family-friendly environment as food, games, music and other activities are available.

A costume contest for children and adults is scheduled for 8 p.m., giving the best-dressed superheroes a chance to earn even more money for their Relay for Life teams.

Laura Lindsey, chair of the event’s publicity committee, said the all-night walk represents the metaphorical journey cancer survivors undergo as they fight their disease.

“Early in the evening, people are walking with a lot of hope and are in good spirits. But by the middle of the night, when it’s cold, dark and lonely, people no longer are so sure they are up to the challenge. But by morning, when the sun rises, they have their hope renewed again because they have their friends and family with them,” Lindsey said. 

Lindsey said the death of her little brother at the age of 5 initially motivated her to get involved in raising money to research and fight cancer. Later in life, she saw friends and neighbors suffer.

“I’ve had friends in their 30s who’ve had breast cancer. It touches everybody and I’m sick of it. I want to do my part to try and change that,” she said.

One of the highlights of the event is the dedication of the luminaries, which are purchased in memory or in support of a loved one. The donations are assigned to a team or participant to help them get a step closer to their fundraising goal. 

“It’s a somber time ... a time for remembering,” Lindsey said. 

But not every aspect of the evening is solemn. It’s also a chance to reconnect with friends and blow off steam. 

Among the groups who’ve agreed to entertain the crowd are the Jefferson City High School Jay’s drumline, the Show-Me Showboaters and the Christian music band, “Almost Taken.”

“We have a pretty full roster to keep kids and adults entertained through the evening,” said Doug Keeney, entertainment chair for the relay. “I think it’s designed for everyone to have a good time and keep everyone motivated. We want to see as many people out there as we can.” 

Kids are invited to participate in a hula-hoop contest and married folks are encouraged to participate in a newlywed competition. Events like the “Three-Legged Race” keep the walk entertaining. You can even Zumba dance, if that’s your thing.

“All have a chance to win prize money for their team,” Lindsey said.

Many of the teams participating in the relay are hoping to raise money there as well by holding raffles, operating dunk booths, selling T-shirts and offering food. 

Most of the fundraising has already occurred; participants use the entire year — holding bake sales and poker runs, etc. — to raise money for the cause. According to the organization’s website, 76 teams and 882 participants have already raised more than $162,560 so far.

But you don’t already have to have a team organized to participate Friday night. 

“Just come out, have some dinner, and listen to the bands,” Lindsey said. “But we definitely have room, if people want to do a last minute team.

“The support we’ve received from Cole County has made us one of the most-successful relays in six states,” she said.

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