Relay for Life is celebrating its silver anniversary this year — 25 years of raising funds for cancer research and supporting cancer patients and families.

Relay for Life 2018

Kylee Wise uses her cellphone to take a picture of her uncles’ luminarias during Relay for Life in 2018.

The event kicks off Friday evening at the Wayne County fairgrounds, under the theme “There Is No Place Like Hope.”

Brenda Robinson has been an avid volunteer before taking over the role of community development manager for the southeast regional American Cancer Society. She is a strong believer in its mission and praised the efforts of all those who have kept the popular event going through the years.

While it was originally introduced in a variety of formats — from a Run/Walk event at the Goldsboro YMCA to its Relay for Life in 1994 — it has been housed at Eastern Wayne High School and then the Wayne Community College campus before relocating to the fairgrounds in 2012.

It has also changed from an overnight event to a single evening.

The gates open Friday at 4 p.m., and the festivities kick off with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m.

Admission is free, but there are ways to contribute to the cause — from purchasing T-shirts and luminarias to food and other vendor booths set up around the track.

One addition this year is a chili and wing cook-off, running from 5 until 8 p.m. Hosted by the Wayne County Motorcycle Riders Relay for Life team, a trophy will be awarded for the winners.

Several events going on throughout the evening include the following:

6:30 p.m. Survivor lap

6:45 p.m. Caregiver lap

7:30 p.m. Kids walk

9 p.m. Luminaria ceremony

11 p.m. Closing ceremony