05/13/12 — County teams set to Relay

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County teams set to Relay

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 13, 2012 1:50 AM

The main event is still five days away, but Wayne County's Relay for Life already has plenty of momentum.

To date, the annual campaign has seen nearly $300,000 raised toward the fight against cancer -- more than half of the goal set by organizers.

And 28 new teams will converge on the Wayne County Fairgrounds this weekend with hopes of bringing in even more.

It's almost here -- the "celebration" that brings thousands of people together to remember those who have battled, and to honor those who are still battling, cancer.

And Relay co-chair Debbie Pennell said organizers of the event are beginning to think that this year might be special.

"I don't know whether it's the new location or the fact that we have more than 100 teams participating this year, but for some reason, it feels different," she said. "We have awesome honorary chairs and great entertainment lined up, and I just think Relay is shaping up to be one of the best we've had."

Some will come for the food -- for the pork loin sandwiches, smoked sausage, barbecue and fried fish.

Others just want to have a little fun with their children -- face painting, carnival games and other activities geared toward youngsters will be available.

But for many, Friday and Saturday are about far more than full stomachs, live music and games.

This weekend is another chance to reflect on the courage of so many loved ones and neighbors -- the men and women who have fought, and those still fighting, the disease Relay aims to defeat.

"And it's an opportunity to be there for each other," Mrs. Pennell said. "To laugh and to cry."

The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.

And then, the "party starts."

But the truth is, those who participate in Relay realize that no one event could put an end to cancer.

"But I'll tell you what the money raised at Relay can do," Mrs. Pennell said. "It can help us ensure that our loved ones get to celebrate more birthdays. And in the end, that's what Relay is about -- pausing to thank God for every single day we get to spend with those people in our lives we love."