The Clay County Relay for Life kicked off its 2003 fund-raising drive Wednesday night with a dinner at the Double-N-Diner.
Patti Haase, president of the Clay County American Cancer Society, said the local Relay for Life will be at the local YMCA on May 3 at 6 p.m. going until 6 a.m. May 4.
"Our goal this year is $25,000," Haase said. "Last year we raised $20,000 with 19 teams and we had 35 survivors show up."
This will be Clay County's fifth year to participate in the program that began in 1985. Relayers have no set distance to walk. They usually sign up for specific time periods in which to participate at the event. There are games, food and door prizes. Everyone can have a good time while supporting a worthy cause.
The Relay raises money, through donations, to help fund cancer research but also helps victims purchase needed items associated with the disease such as wigs. The money also provides literature to increase public awareness. Haase said that most of the money raised in Clay County will stay in Clay County.
More than 35 relayers showed up at last night's kick-off. Jeff Deakins of Spun Metal said he hopes to increase the number of corporate sponsors. Deakins explained that his involvement is more personal this year as a close friend was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that has no known cure.
"Anyone in this room could be healthy right now and be diagnosed with cancer in six months," Deakinssaid. "For me, cancer is the scariest disease out there. I'm very concerned for my children and grandchildren. That's why I'm a sponsor."
Dawn Clinkenbeard, from the American Cancer Society, said that last year they had a new team at the Relay. Thirty-two North Clay Middle School students participated and raised $2,200.
"To form a team," Clinkenbeard explained, "a leader needs to get a captain's packet and recruit about 10 to 15 people for the team. Each person pays a $10 participation fee which does not count as part of the donation.
"Members will get a T-shirt with Relay for Life on it and the Relay logo of the sun and moon together signifying that cancer patients have to deal with cancer 24 hours a day.
"This year's theme is the Power of Purple", Clinkenbeard continued. "It's the Relay's official color which was chosen arbitrarily in 1985. It represents the power of a community to unit with the Relay effort to raise money to fight cancer."
Clay County's theme this year is that cancer control can be fun and Relay for Life is trying to get out information that will help people make healthy life choices. Something new this year are cancer control smart shop boxes which will be rotated around the community. The boxes contain pamphlets on health screening, cancer awareness information, nicotrol coupons and samples of sunscreen.
Anyone interested in learning more about Relay for Life or wanting to sign up may call Patti Haase at 448-3483 or the Terre Haute Cancer Society at (812) 232-2679.