LUMBERTON — Hundreds of people are expected to walk their way through the night to help raise money for the fight on cancer during the 17th annual Robeson County Relay for Life.
The 24-hour event, will begin at noon Friday at the Robeson County Fairgrounds, benefits the American Cancer Society by raising money for cancer research and cancer awareness.
As of Wednesday, the event’s website showed it had raised about $170,000, with 2,213 people and 86 teams slated to take part in this year’s festivities. Last year, the county event raised $320,000.
During the event, teams of eight to 15 people camp out overnight, with at least one member of each team always walking around the designated path. Each team has a tent set up to sell items, from T-shirts to food to arts and crafts.
According to Lisa Hendren, a member of the organizing committee, the theme for this year’s event is “Hula for a Cure,” and a hula contest will be part of the fun.
“We’ve got a lot of talent going on. It’s gonna be jam-packed, with something going on the whole time,” Hendren said.
The lineup includes various church choirs and singers, shagging, the Carolina Glitterettes, youth drama teams and contests throughout the night. The Public Schools of Robeson County and Production One will present a “Glee” musical. There will also be line dancing and Zumba.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and will include a survivor and caregiver lap.
“You get to honor those who are fighting,” Hendren said of the survivor lap. “Not only are we there to honor those who are fighting the battle, but it’s an inspiration for those that have just been diagnosed, to know that there’s that many people that have fought the battle and won.”
Hendren has been a part of the event every year since its inception, and was on the American Cancer Society board in Robeson County before it had an annual relay.
“It’s grown a lot,” she said. “We’re seeing more survivors now than what we used to see. It used to be luminaries for the memorials far outweighed the survivors, now it’s more neck-to-neck. There’s about as many survivors as there are people we’re remembering.”
Hendren said her favorite part is the luminaria service, which begins at 9 p.m. Friday. Candles are lit inside paper bags, each one with the name of a person touched by cancer.
“That’s the most touching part because that’s when you really get down to what it’s about, it’s about the people that’s been affected,” she said.
The festivities will conclude with a “fight-back” ceremony and team lap at 11:45 a.m. on Saturday.
The weather forecast is for a high of about 80 degrees for Friday and Saturday with a 20 percent chance of rain.
Since the relay events began in 1985, they have raised more than $3 billion across the country, according to the American Cancer Society’s website. For information, call Hendren at 910-843-4135, or visit the Robeson County Relay for Life’s website at www.relayforlife.org/robesonnc.