With an improved activity schedule and an ambitious $165,000 fundraising goal, this year’s Relay for Life promises to be one of the best yet, according to American Cancer Society organizers.
The Relay kicks off with opening ceremonies at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday at the Charlotte Amalie High School track and will run until 10 a.m. Sunday. Organizers said the plan is to raise as much money as possible for the Cancer Society’s year-round programs, including patient care assistance and screenings.
This year’s goal of $165,000, given to the V.I. chapter by the Cancer Society’s regional headquarters, does take into account current economic conditions, said St. Thomas Relay for Life chair Roy Benjamin. But residents should still keep in mind that the funds are needed to help patients with cancer, who need as much support as possible, he said.
"Cancer is rampant throughout the community," Benjamin said. "Everyone has been touched by it, whether it is an immediate family member, co-worker or friend, so everyone should give to this cause."
Annual Relay for Life events are also held on St. Croix and St. John. Between the two islands, approximately $240,000 (before expenses) has been raised this year, said Fern LaBorde, the Cancer Society’s executive director. While the goal for St. Thomas might be $165,000, the organization is "keeping its fingers crossed" for more than that, she said.
Along with "lots" of new volunteers, organizers said the activities schedule has been completely revised, allowing for many options for both adults and children. Activities include:
-A Miss/Ster Relay for both men and women, where participates will be asked to complete a series of tasks, including a "piggyback lap" and a "fast walk" of half the track;
-A People Mache "Dress to Impress" contest, where teams of two will be asked to outfit one other in newspaper and duct tape without using scissors or any kind of adhesive (this activity is only open to members of teams registered to compete in the Relay for Life);
– A "Life Idol" karaoke competition, with Apollo-style judging (this activity is open to general participants in the relay);
-Themed laps starting at 7 p.m. Saturday and continuing at the top of each hour until midnight
-A tug of war competition; and
-Several relays and contests (including musical chairs, jump rope, sack races and an obstacle course) for children. For a complete activities list, click here.
The Luminary Ceremony this year is scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday. Benjamin said the number of teams and the sponsors will be finalized in the coming days.