• 66°

Teams prepare for cancer walk in April

“We” is an unstoppable word.

Because of the “we” involved in this year’s Relay For Life of Copiah-Lincoln, the American Cancer Society will be a step closer to a cure.

Twenty-two teams have signed up to participate in the Relay event, which will be April 5 at the Lincoln Civic Center covered arena during the annual Mississippi Spring Fest and Fair. The change in location could bring a boost in donations for the ACS fundraiser, said Cindy Ashmore, a senior community development manager with the American Cancer Society.

The Friday night of the fair will be Relay For Life Night and includes a cancer survivor reception, special recognition for the Brookhaven Exchange Club, food, entertainment, games and a late-night luminaria ceremony.

Three-time cancer survivor Pam Smith will be the featured speaker.

The event is free to attend, and Ashmore hopes having the spring fair at the same location will help bring people in to visit team booths and support the cause.

Cancer survivors can register for the free banquet online at www.relayforlife.org to be guaranteed a shirt size. Registration will also be available at the Lincoln Civic Center multi-purpose building at 5:30 p.m. April 5.

The Copiah-Lincoln’s Relay goal is over $60,000.

It’s not too late to register a team, Ashmore said. Visit www.relayforlife.org for more information.

Ashmore said the opening ceremony, with the presentation of colors and the national anthem, is a great way to start the event. It’s followed by the beginning laps, which always makes Ashmore, who lost two fathers to cancer, emotional to watch.

“First the survivors take a celebratory lap, with the crowd cheering them on, then caregivers take their turn with their survivors to get recognized for all they do to support their loved ones,” she said.

Teams keep at least one person walking laps throughout the five-hour event.

“Once the event is in full swing, teammates take turns walking the track to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer,” she said. “Between laps, you can check out other teams’ tents for games and activities, and help support the cause.”

During the luminaria ceremony, tiki torches and luminaria glow along the track.

“We light luminaria to remember those we’ve lost, celebrate cancer survivors, and show everyone affected by cancer that we are the light in the darkness,” she said.  “At Relay events, you’ll see luminaria decorated with the names of loved ones, usually lining the track or path of the walk. After dark, each luminaria is lit in honor or remembrance of a life touched by cancer, accompanied by a moment of silence for those we’ve lost.”

While some Relay events stretch the full 24 hours to show that cancer never sleeps, the Copiah-Lincoln event ends at 11 p.m. with a closing ceremony and awards.

For cancer information 24 hours a day, call 800-227-2345.