BENNINGTON >> The Relay for Life of Bennington County will host a free exposition next week to kick off the Relay season.
At the Vermont Veteran's Home (325 North Street) on Feb. 24, cancer survivors, caregivers and past Relay participants will be present to spread awareness of the main event in June. From 6:30 to 8 p.m., the public is welcome to visit informational booths, win door prizes and treats, and participate in other activities.
The theme of the kickoff event is "superhero" in relation to fighting off cancer, and the best superhero costume could win a prize, according to the event flyer. Relay for Life of Bennington County will be held at Mount Anthony Union High School on June 25 from noon to 12 a.m. According to the event website, 27 teams and 88 participants have already raised $3,043.59 for the cause.
"Dressing up and coming in is awesome," Stephanie Taylor, event coordinator said. "We want everyday heros to come to the Relay. Firefighters, nurses, etc. Everyone who is fighting the fight."
The kickoff event has been going on for a few years now, Taylor said, but this year it's set up as an expo. There will be a VIP table for survivors or caregivers to sign up for a team if they do not have one. A 50/50 raffle will also occur in which proceeds will go toward the winning team's raised funds rather than an individual to take home.
Relay for Life is an organized, overnight, American Cancer Society fundraiser where the community forms teams to camp out around a track, according to the event website. Members of the teams take turns walking the track throughout the night. Typically there is a time for cancer survivors to take the first lap around the track to celebrate their victory. Then, once it is dark a luminaria ceremony takes place so that participants can remember those who lost their battle to cancer. Candles are lit inside personalized bags and placed around the track.
"It's an event to celebrate survivors and we walk the track, there's no running involved," Taylor said. "The new hours is a new big thing. It'll be from noon to midnight instead of overnight. We're hoping more survivors going through treatments will come out and spend the whole time."
In 1985, $27,000 was raised by Dr. Gordy Klatt who ran and walked for 24 hours straight in Tacoma, Wash. Since then, the Relay movement has grown to raise $5 billion to fight cancer.
Visit www.relayforlife.org/benningtonvt for more information or to sign up for a team.
— Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.