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Relay aims at young survivors
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The 14th annual Liberty County Relay for Life kicks off Friday ,and organizers are looking forward to a night of "youthful" celebrations, appearances and plenty of activities to keep participants awake during the 12-hour event.
Organizers for this year's walk chose the theme, "Relay for the Children, Our Future," to pay tribute to cancer survivors 19 and younger to remind the community the disease can affect anyone.
Relay for Life Survivor Chairman Sharon Dunham said the idea behind the theme stems from conversations she had with volunteers after last year's Survivors Dinner.
"When I first sponsored the Survivors Dinner last year, I had some ladies from my Red Hat Society help and one of the biggest shocks I head from them was they were surprised by the number of young people there," she said. "In their minds, they just thought survivors were all gray-haired, older people. So when they saw there were younger people there, they were just surprised."
Dunham said the hope Friday is to create more community awareness about juvenile cancer through youthful games, music and a performance from "American Idol" favorite, Stephanie Edwards.
Edwards is scheduled to sing the National Anthem during the walk's opening ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m. on the Lewis Frasier Middle School track.
Following Edwards' performance, the walk will officially begin with the traditional Survivors Lap with the young survivors leading and including the "relay princess," Dunham said.
"We have a little girl from Liberty Elementary School who's going to be our relay princess," she said. "She'll have a little sash and everything."
The event will take a somber tone at 9 p.m. when the Luminary Ceremony is scheduled to begin. The observance allows participants to remember loved ones and friends who have had cancer or in memory of those who lost their battle to cancer by lighting candles in their honor.
Throughout the night, a DJ will keep teams entertained with a variety of music. There will also be a pajama party, scavenger hunt and flag football game.
"There will just be a lot going on all evening," Dunham said, "to make sure we keep the people there awake and attentive."
The event will close with a ceremony at 7 a.m. Saturday.
The walk, which is sponsored nationwide by the American Cancer Society to raise money for the organization's mission to eliminate cancer, is free and open to the public.
"People can come out just to walk around, to see the luminary or just to see Stephanie Edwards sing," Dunham said. "But you don't have to be a member of team to come out and participate. It's a big community-wide event and everyone's welcome to come."
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