Richmond Hill resident Marianne Smith will have plenty of loved ones on her mind when she walks at this year’s Relay For Life of Richmond Hill.
“I have just been surrounded by cancer,” she said Tuesday.
Smith’s teenage daughter, Jessica, underwent surgery two years ago to have an ependymoma tumor removed from her brain and spinal cord. Smith’s friend, Amber Jones, overcame Hodgkin’s lymphoma and is now battling breast cancer.
In addition, Smith, who has participated in many previous Relay events, said cancer struck her mother and stepmother, and that it recently took the life of the wife of a friend of her husband’s.
Smith said she will walk with her daughter, Jones and other loved ones during the Survivor and Caregiver Walk that kicks off this year’s Relay. The Relay is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Friday and continues overnight to 7 a.m. Saturday at J.F. Gregory Park, 521 Cedar St.
During the opening walk, Smith said she will be “missing the ones who have passed and remembering how blessed I am that I still have my daughter. I think so many people have been touched by cancer.”
Relay officials say that survivors, caregivers, teams, family, friends, co-workers, children and anyone who has ever known someone with cancer or just wants to help fight back is asked to join the Relay. It will include games and refreshments for participants, who will walk throughout the Relay on the sidewalk around the park pavilion while raising money for the American Cancer Society.
During the Relay’s luminaria ceremony that begins at 10 p.m. Friday, torches and candles will be lit to honor loved ones who have died from cancer, as well as those who are still battling the disease or have survived cancer.
The torches will be placed on blocks of foam and float on the pond behind the park pavilion, and the candles will be placed in white paper bags and line the sidewalk around the pavilion.
This touching event will be followed by the Relay’s traditional breakfast at midnight.
As of Tuesday, 231 people and a total of 31 teams had registered to participate in this year’s Relay, said Jessica Seagle, community manager for the Relay For Life of Richmond Hill.
She said participants in this year’s Relay hope to raise $107,000 for the American Cancer Society. Participants raised $107,149 at the 2010 event, Seagle said.
For more information, call Seagle at (912) 355-5196 or Civility Bowling at (912) 547-1936, or visit www.relayforlife.org/richmondhillga.
The 2011 Relay For Life of North Bryan County is scheduled for April 15 at Hendrix Park in Black Creek.