The opening ceremony for the annual Relay for Life of Phelps County will kick off at noon Saturday, Sept. 21, at Lions Club Park in Rolla.
According to Bryan Thompson, Phelps County Relay for Life Committee chairperson, this year will mark a milestone for this local relay.
"We have surpassed the one million dollar mark in terms of fundraising since we first began some 16 years ago," said Thompson.
This year's relay will have 20 fundraising teams who will be walking around the park starting at noon. These groups will have tents set up where they will be selling crafts, food and continuing to raise money for the event.
For the past two years, Amy Luebbert has served as the team development chairperson for the Phelps County Relay. However, she has been walking in the relay since 2001.
Her impetus to get involved was the fact that her dad, Dave, is a cancer survivor. This Saturday, Luebbert will be walking with her crew from First State Community Bank along with her dad.
Thompson added that it is a personal connection to cancer that so often motivates people to become involved in this growing fundraiser.
According to the Relay for Life's website, this movement began in Seattle, Wash., in 1985 with a man by the name of Dr. Gordy Klatt. He wanted to show what having cancer was really like. So, he ran and walked around a track for 24 hours straight. With the support of family and friends who donated money to walk with him for 30 minutes, Klatt was able to raise more than $27,000.
In the United States alone, there will be more than 5,200 Relay for Life events this year. Thompson said that Saturday's event will serve two purposes. First, it celebrates one more year of life for those who are cancer survivors. It also serves as a celebration of all the fundraising work that teams have been doing throughout the year.
"It is very much a grassroots movement in terms of how teams raise money," said Thompson. "Some have bake sales, garage sales or even a car wash, for instance. And this money is turned in throughout the year."
He said that the goal for 2013 is to raise $75,000. So far the area group has raised close to $40,000. Fundraising continues until the end of December of this year.
Other events at this year's relay will include the survivors' dinner at 6 p.m. and the lighting of the luminary bags at 9 p.m.
For more information contact Bryan Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-647-5301.