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Relay for Life — raising money and raising awareness

Teams with Relay For Life of Copiah-Lincoln are in the last few weeks of fundraising for the American Cancer Society, but it’s not too late to sign up as a team, sponsor, caregiver or survivor.

Eight teams have already made the pledge to raise money for ACS and are holding fundraising events leading up to the Relay For Life walk, said Cindy Ashmore, the senior community development manager for ACS. The Relay will be held April 20 at Brookhaven Exchange Club Park beginning with a survivor supper hosted by Lincoln County Farm Bureau at 6 p.m.

Ashmore said they had about 50 to 75 survivors at last year’s event, which was the first after the relays of Copiah County and Lincoln County combined. Each survivors will receive a free purple T-shirt and enjoy a meal with their caregiver.

Pre-registration online for survivors is encouraged to guarantee the correct T-shirt size. Ashmore would like to see every cancer survivor in the two counties attend. To register, visit 

“That’s what we’re here for, celebrating our survivors,” she said.

Teams already registered include Centerpoint Entergy, Haven Hall Healthcare, King’s Daughters Medical Center, Walmart of Brookhaven, Walmart of Hazlehurst, LifeStyle Enrichment (a family team from Hazlehurst), Prayer Warriors (a church team from Copiah County), State Bank & Trust, Walmart Distribution, Brookhaven Exchange Club and Silver Cross Health and Rehab.

Several other groups have talked to Ashmore about becoming a team but have not registered yet.

It doesn’t require much to become a team, just a willingness to fundraise and raise awareness about the disease, she said. There’s no set amount to raise.

“We ask every team to register online,” she said. “It’s a way of helping us get their information.”

The opening ceremony is 7 p.m. followed by a survivor and caregiver walk at 7:15 p.m.

“We kick off the event by honoring everyone who’s been affected by cancer and everyone who has contributed to the success of this year’s Relay season,” Ashmore said. “Survivors and caregivers are the heart and soul of Relay For Life events. We honor their strength and courage with every step they take. It doesn’t matter if you were diagnosed 10 days ago or 10 years ago, you can walk while everyone gathers together to cheer you on.”

The Bridge Band of Brookhaven will perform beginning at 8 p.m.

The luminaria ceremony is at 9 p.m. Each light represents a life — a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer or a support for a person still fighting the disease.

“It’s a powerful demonstration that gives people the opportunity to grieve but also offers comfort and hope,” she said.

The awards and closing ceremony is at 11 p.m.

The Exchange Club will be opening the midway for Relay For Life and armbands for unlimited rides are $10 each. Each team is selling tickets for armbands up to the day of the event. Tickets sold will go toward the teams’ totals. Armbands purchased at the event will go toward the Exchange Club team’s total.

Ashmore said the Relay raised more than $53,000 in 2017. This year’s goal is $59,000.

“We’re hoping that we can top last year,” she said.

The next team meeting is March 22 at noon at The Aspen of Brookhaven.

For more information or to register as a team, survivor, caregiver or participant or to purchase luminaria bags or torches, visit www.relayforlife.org/copiahlincolnms.com.