CALAIS, Maine — The economy may be in a slump, but participants in the 10th annual Relay for Life are pumped now that the event is only a week away.
The Calais event will be held May 29-30 at Washington County Community College. The opening ceremony is slated to begin at 6 p.m. Friday with the survivors’ lap, then the rest of the teams will join in the walk. The closing ceremony will begin at 5 a.m. the next day.
Last year’s teams raised $36,000.
Because of the economy, organizers have not set a goal this year. “We just said if we can just raise money for such a good cause that is what our major goal is,” organizer Marianne Moore said Wednesday.
To date, 18 teams have signed up.
Indian Township is fielding two teams with a total of 30 walkers in honor of Faye Nicholas, who died earlier this year. They are calling themselves “Faye-vorites.”
“They are doing a lot of fundraisers in her honor and her memory,” Moore said. Nicholas taught school at Indian Township.
A special luminaria ceremony will be held at 10 p.m. Friday to remember those people who have lost their lives to cancer and also to honor those who have survived their battle with cancer.
“It will be beautiful when all the bags with candles are illuminated around the track,” Mike Hart, community executive for the American Cancer Society, said in a press release. “We hope to sell enough to light the entire area.”
This year, instead of placing the candle in sand in a brown paper bag, the organizers are going to ask people to bring a canned food item and the candle will be placed on top of that. Afterward, the items will be donated to the local food pantry, Moore said.
Last year, there were 1,014 luminarias around the track. They hope to have more this year.
With the recent death of popular firefighter Billy Townsend, 27, Moore said she believed there would be a lot of luminarias in his honor. Townsend died earlier this year after a two-year battle with cancer.
Moore said members of the Calais Fire Department have been invited to do a memory lap in Townsend’s honor. She said they were still in discussions with firefighters.
Teams of eight to 15 members will gather with tents and sleeping bags to join more than 4,800 communities nationwide in holding Relays for Life. Teams seek sponsorship before the event.
For information about cancer, or about purchasing a luminaria, forming a team, or walking in the survivors’ lap, contact the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or online at www.relayforlife.org/washingtonme.