Poplar Bluff Relay for Life scheduled July 26-27

Friday, June 14, 2002

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- More than 500 people are expected to participate in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life planned Friday and Saturday, July 26 and 27, at the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff. "We now have 36 teams registered," said Wilma Parks, chairwoman of the relay. "We're looking for new teams every day."

Parks, president of the Poplar Bluff area American Cancer Society chapter, said teams are comprised of two to several dozen people.

"The Family Services team had over 60 last year," she said. "Teams have fund raisers to raise money. We start four months in advance. We have one team already committed to raising over $20,000."

Parks said, "Our goal is to have 40 teams, which is double what we had last year." Last year the event raised more than $40,000, which was given to the American Cancer Society to be used for cancer research and other cancer-related projects, she said. A percentage of the money was returned for use in Butler County. "This is a nationwide campaign and as people become more aware of the need to find a cure for cancer, the more willing they are to participate," she said.

The relay is also a time for sharing, she said, adding: "When these survivors get together, it's like a support team. When a person just diagnosed with cancer meets a person who has survived for 20 years with the same type of cancer, there's new hope."

Registration starts at 4 p.m. July 26 at the coliseum. A Cancer Survivor Reception will be held at 4:30 p.m. The Relay For Life begins at 6 p.m. with a survivors' lap. The luminary ceremony, where cancer patients are remembered by loved ones in a candle-lighting ceremony, will be at 9 p.m.

Parks said this year luminary candles can be purchased with a donation rather than a set fee. "We had a little boy last year who had 13 cents and wanted to remember his grandmother," she said. "We gave him a luminary."

Team members walk around the track throughout the night; closing ceremonies are at 7 a.m. July 27.

Funds from Relay For Life help support The American Cancer Society's programs for cancer patients, prevention and early detection education, advocacy efforts, and research.

Educational booths on cancer education and awareness will be set up along the track.

To register a team to purchase a luminary, or participate as a cancer survivor, call Parks at (573) 785-8599.

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