That statement is obvious when considering the number of people working to raise money for the 2014 American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Pulaski County.
“There are 80 teams participating in this year’s Relay,” said Brooke Whitis, ACS representative for Pulaski County. “ ... That means there’s more awareness ... and there’s sadness that so many people are affected.”
Whitis said the number of fundraising teams may be a new record for Pulaski County, and she’s hoping for a big turnout at this year’s event, held at the Pulaski County High School track and football field.
This year’s Relay for Life will continue many of traditions of past events. Whitis said the event will start at 6 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. — the overnight time lapse a representation of the exhausting journey a cancer patient takes in battling the disease.
A survivors’ lap and a caregivers’ lap, and the Luminaria segment, during which those lost to the disease are remembered, are sure to be especially emotional for attendees.
“I tell people ‘You’ll cry twice, once during the survivors’ lap and once during the Luminaria,’” said Whitis. “They know they can be sad, but they can rejoice because their loved ones have survived this.”
The event will begin with the running of the Relay Torch, led again by Pulaski Circuit Judge David A. Tapp. Tapp, as a judge, cannot actively raise money for any charity, but he can take part in the opening ceremony.
But Tapp is happy to participate in any way he can.
“We get the honor of kicking it off,” said Tapp, who lost his wife, Patty, to cancer in 2010.
This year, Tapp will be accompanied by a group of CrossFit Ignis members and others. They will begin on Oak Hill Road and run through downtown Somerset.
“Everybody who’s involved in Relay does it I think to help somebody else or remember somebody else,” said Tapp. “It benefits all of us when we step up to the plate for those we may not even know.”
And so far, the Pulaski County community has stepped up. Eighty teams, and a total of 669 participants, have raised more than $91,000 to go toward cancer research. The goal for the 2014 Relay is $160,000.
This year’s theme is “Superheroes,” so Whitis said she’s expecting to see many people in costume for the 12-hour celebration and remembrance ceremony.
Whitis, who on Saturday finished the Whitley County Relay for Life, pointed out that the signature ACS events have helped raise more than $448 million for cancer research. She said around $6.9 million of that has gone toward the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville for research into finding a cure for the disease.
“That’s why we’ve got to keep going,” said Whitis.
Whitis said sky lanterns will also be released in honor of those who battle cancer.
“It (cancer) is going to touch us all in our lives one way or another,” said Tapp. “Whether it be you, your children, your parent ... it’s such a prevalent disease.”
Whitis said there is still time to join in. Those interested in raising money or volunteering, or those who have questions can call the local ACS office at 678-0203. She emphasized that the event is free and open to all, not just members of fundraising teams.
“We’re hoping for a great turnout,” said Whitis.
The Relay for Life is Friday, June 20 at 6 p.m. at Pulaski County High School.
Heather Tomlinson is a staff writer for the Commonwealth Journal. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org