PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Becky Maynard acknowledged Wednesday that most people know someone who has or has had cancer, whether it be a friend, relative or acquaintance.
Maynard is one of those people, and it is because cancer has touched so many lives around her that she was motivated to once again become involved with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for Aroostook County.
This year’s event will be held at Northern Maine Community College this Friday and Saturday. Twenty-four area teams will walk throughout the night to help raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
“I have been involved with the walk for eight years,” Maynard, NMCC bookstore manager and co-chairwoman of the planning committee for this year’s event, said Wednesday. “I know a number of friends and relatives who have fought cancer, and I think it is important to raise awareness and raise money for a cure.”
Maynard’s father died two years ago after a 10-year battle with cancer. An aunt also succumbed last year to ovarian cancer.
More than 200 relays are being held throughout New England this year, all celebrating survivorship and raising money to help the American Cancer Society save lives and assist those who have been touched by cancer.
The theme of this year’s event is Carnival for a Cure, so many teams will feature carnival-like games at their camp sites. A significant number of businesses and organizations have teams this year, according to Maynard.
The NMCC event begins with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by a survivor and caregiver lap at 6:15 p.m. That lap identifies area cancer survivors and those who have cared for loved ones battling cancer. Cancer survivors and caregivers also are invited to the Survivors Reception being held at 7 p.m. on campus.
Walkers for the Relay for Life will officially get started at 6:30 p.m. with a parade of teams. Live entertainment from 7:30 to 9 p.m. will feature most of the Aroostook Idol winners during the past five seasons as well as other local singers. There also will be children’s activities throughout the evening.
At 9 p.m., a Ceremony of Hope will be held, during which all of the luminarias purchased in honor of cancer survivors or in memory of those who have lost that battle will be lighted. After a moment of silence, the names of these individuals will be read aloud.
The luminarias will line the track and spell out the word “hope.”
The public activities will conclude after the Fight Back Ceremony at 10 p.m. Many team members will be on hand throughout the night, however, with a representative from each team required to be on the track at all times until the closing lap at 10 a.m. Saturday. Activities are scheduled throughout the night to keep the teams energized.
Maynard said Wednesday that she has seen the event grow each year. Last year, participants raised more than $26,000 during the relay.
“I think that more and more people show up because there is more awareness out there,” she said.
Community members are invited to come to the NMCC campus anytime from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday to show support. Numerous special activities will keep families entertained.
For information on the Relay for Life, contact Northern Maine Community College at 768-2809 or go to www.relayforlife.org.