By Lynne Hendricks
AMESBURY — There are officially 156 days until the start of Amesbury's Relay for Life, a two-day annual event held in celebration and support of those who have battled or are currently battling cancer.
For organizers of the Relay, that means it's officially time to kick off the fundraising campaign that raises money and awareness ahead of the event. Funds are donated to the American Cancer Society to help find a cure for cancer.
For anyone who has ever lost a loved one to the disease, beat it or been touched by those who fought courageously against it, the Relay for Life is a great way to take part in stopping cancer in its tracks, organizers say. And getting started is as easy as attending the Saturday, May 1, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. kickoff event at Cashman Elementary School, 193 Lion's Mouth Road.
Event organizer and top Relay supporter Thomas Hanshaw said this year's spring kickoff festival will feature a pancake breakfast with all the fixings, music by DJ Rick Saulnier, carnival games, entertainment, a stuffed animal Wellness Clinic, a build-your-own ice cream sundae stand and a host of other local attractions.
Vendors like Avon, Pampered Chef and Party Light Candles will be on hand selling merchandise and offering a portion of their profits to the Relay event, and kiddie games for all ages will include Al Maynard's baseball album smash, the Lollipop Tree, the Price Wheel, a bounce house, a mini-golf range, a beanbag toss and lots of other fun activities.
Relay for Life representatives will also be on hand to explain how guests can take part in this year's eighth annual Sept. 11 and 12 Relay in Landry Stadium and join the fight against cancer.
That event welcomes teams of supporters from across the region to the Landry Football Stadium for an overnight vigil honoring cancer victims and their families. With one person from each team walking the track at all times — keeping vigil through the night — the event offers a way for families to show solidarity in the fight against all cancers.
Money raised by teams across the country in the months leading up to the event has totaled $600,000 toward cancer research by the American Cancer Society.
For those who can't field a team of overnight stadium campers, the upcoming May 1 kickoff event offers another way to help, as food, game and vendor sales from the event will be directed to the cause.
For more information about the event and the Relay For Life of Amesbury, visit the Web site at www.relayforlife.org/amesburyma or call Donna Eldredge at 978-821-4084.