UNION COUNTY — Everyone is invited to enjoy activities, entertainment, food and fellowship at Union County’s annual Relay for Life event this weekend.
The 2014 Union County Relay for Life will begin Friday, May 9, and go through the morning of Saturday, May 10.
The event will begin with a reception for cancer survivors at 6 p.m. Survivors are asked to go to the Clemson Extension office to receive a survivor t-shirt and fellowship until the opening ceremony, which will take place at 7 p.m.
Each year, a celebrity starter presents the scissors which cut the ribbon to begin the relay. This year’s special guest is a surprise, but event co-chair Torance Inman said he could reveal that the surprise guest is a recognizable person who will receive “assistance” from Sheriff David Taylor.
The National Anthem will be performed by the Sims Singers, and the Union County High School JROTC will present the colors.
Once the ribbon is cut, survivors will be recognized, and the traditional survivor lap will take place. Following the survivor lap, a team banner lap will take place with approximately 26 teams being represented as they carry their banners.
Entertainment for this year’s event will include a musical performance by Jukebox 45, which will last until 9:30 p.m., leading into a remembrance ceremony for those who have lost the fight to cancer. At that time, luminaries will be lit and a silent lap will be observed.
Following the remembrance ceremony, more entertainment is in store with a musical performance by the West End String Band, which consists of Charlie McDaniel (guitar and vocals), Kathy McDaniel (bass and vocals), Jim Rollins (banjo and vocals) and Matt Purinton (mandolin and vocals). The band is known for playing traditional bluegrass and classic country with a modern appeal. The West End String Band will play until midnight.
“At midnight, we will see the greatest display of talent in all of Union County,” laughed event chair Beth Lancaster.
Each team will participate in a team talent show, which will take relayers into the wee hours of the morning.
“It will be interesting to say the least,” Lancaster said. “We usually have fun with the talent show, but we haven’t done it in a couple of years.”
Inman said while all of the excitement and entertainment is going on, participants will remain focused on the true purpose of the relay.
“Teams will be walking the track all night long because cancer never sleeps,” Inman said.
Some of the laps walked will be randomly selected as “vacation laps,” and walkers will receive tickets to be entered in a drawing for a two-night stay in Highlands, N.C. The drawing will take place at 6 a.m. Saturday during the closing ceremony, and entrants must be present at the closing ceremony to claim their prize.
Another drawing for a special dinner cruise in Charleston will also take place at the closing ceremony, and winners for that prize do not have to be present to win. Those entrants will be taken from the various $1 donations collected around the county, which are represented by the paper feet, suns, moons and cupcakes displayed in various businesses. Those paper tokens may be purchased in honor or in memory of a loved one.
The closing ceremony will also feature award presentations for veteran and newcomer teams. Awards will include “Best Theme,” “Best Banner,” “Best Campsite,” “Most Money Raised,” and the coveted “Spirit of Relay” award, which will go to the team who exemplifies the spirit of Relay for Life. Inman said the Spirit of Relay includes every aspect of the event — team formation, fund raising, community involvement, event participation completely through to the closing ceremony.
This year’s presenting sponsor for the event is Dollar General, which donated $5,000. Corporate sponsors for the event — which donated at the $1,000 level — are Sims Middle School, Union County High School, and Bantam Chef of Union.
Union County Relay for Life began in 1996, and the relay is one year away from raising more than $2 million for the fight against cancer. Those involved in the relay work on a completely volunteer basis, and after some expenses such as power and fairgrounds rental, all money raised goes to the American Cancer Society.
“This is a fight to find cures,” Inman said. “The American Cancer Society Relay for Life’s primary function is to generate resources for research, education, advocacy and patient services relative to finding cures and treatments.”