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Cancer Society's annual Relay For Life kicks off tonight

Jonathon Bamford, left, and Dan Norman of Bob White Rents erect the first two of many tents that will dot the Darton College Soccer field Friday and in into the early morning hours Saturday as the American Cancer Society’s Annual Relay For Life gets underway. (Terry Lewis)

Jonathon Bamford, left, and Dan Norman of Bob White Rents erect the first two of many tents that will dot the Darton College Soccer field Friday and in into the early morning hours Saturday as the American Cancer Society’s Annual Relay For Life gets underway. (Terry Lewis)

ALBANY, Ga. -- More than 560 cancer survivors, their families, friends and members of the community will gather at Darton State College's soccer field tonight as the Albany Chapter of the American Cancer Society kicks off its annual Relay For Life Celebration.

Relay for Life Schedule

6 p.m. Opening Ceremony

9 p.m. Luminary Ceremony

10 p.m. Bands: The Avenue; Sneaky Snacks; The Cave Trolls

11:15 p.m. Zumba ~ Samatha Helton, Darton College Instructor

11:50 p.m. Box Car Race

12:15 a.m. Mr. Relay Contest

12:50 a.m. Extreme Makeover

1:15 a.m. Gum Ceramics

1:50 a.m. Wrap

2:30 a.m. Stuff a Balloon

3:10 a.m. Line Dance-Purple Glove Dance-Part II

3:40 a.m. Teams - Balloon In A Chair

4:10 a.m. Adult Hula Hoop Contest

4:50 a.m. Line Dance Part III

5:10 a.m. Closing Ceremony Preparation

5:30 a.m. Closing Ceremony

The event's opening ceremonies are planned for 6 p.m. and activities are planned throughout the night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning before closing ceremonies begin at 5:30 a.m.

"Relay For Life is a community event which raises funds and awareness of to save lives from cancer," ACS Community Manager Chealsea Cromer said. "This event aims to 'Remember And Fight Back.' We celebrate by honoring our survivors and caregivers in their respective track laps. We remember during our Luminara Ceremony by lighting candles, torches and balloons in honor of those that have fought and are fighting cancer and in memory of those we have lost to the disease.

"We fight back by raising awareness and funds to fight cancer."

More than 50 teams will participate in the event, which is expected to raise more than $75,000 for the local cancer chapter.

Tents began going up at the soccer field Thursday afternoon in anticipation of tonight's events.

"We'll still take new teams and they can come out and register (Friday)" Cromer said. "Regardless, we invite the community to turn out and support this event, we are just hoping the rain holds off."

Local weather reports forecast chances of scattered thunderstorms late Friday and into early Saturday morning.

Team Tara/PT leader Stanley Okon and his group will be participating in their first Relay For Life. Team Tara's 11 members have raised nearly $4,500.

"My wife, Tara, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer almost a year to the date of this event," Okon, an engineer at Procter and Gamble, said. "The hardest part was accepting the initial shock (of the diagnosis) and the second hardest part was the fight against the disease. She is now cancer free.

"We want to let folks know it's OK to ask for help, or to lean on family and friends. Trust me, it helps and it works."

Frankye LeMay of the Sunnyland Farms Funkadelics team will be bringing 28 members to the event.

"This is our third time and the team is mostly Sunnyland Farms employees," LeMay said. "The reason we all do this is to help fight and find a cure for cancer. We enjoy the different activities, seeing all the people and friends ... oh, and all the good food, too."

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