ALPENA - Local volunteers and the American Cancer Society are "Shooting for the Stars" at this year's Relay for Life, with a theme based on the planetarium kickoff in March and a goal exceeding last year's fundraising total of about $93,000, starting at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Alpena County Fairgrounds.
The 24-hour fundraising event aims to raise $95,000 for research, support programs, prevention programs, detection, treatment, and other causes aimed at fighting cancer. Event Chair Stacy Roznowski said the relay committee will gladly accept donations of time or money from anyone, but early registration points to about 500 participants and 37 teams so far, and over $43,000 raised.
"Throughout the time we probably have between 700 and 800 people. It should be a little bit more than that, but it's going on for the full 24 hours, so people come and go," she said. "There's food that they can get there. We have lots of raffles, and we have silent auctions, you can buy food and drinks, and there's people that stay the full 24 hours."
Following the 10 a.m. opening ceremonies, the relay will host its usual set of special events, including the "fight back" ceremony at 2 p.m., the survivor lap at 5 p.m., and a survivors and caregivers dinner at 5:30 p.m. courtesy of the relay committee and Friends Together. Live entertainment, a dunk tank, a giant waterslide, concessions and other games will keep people occupied through the afternoon, and the annual "luminaria" light and memorial ceremony will begin at 9 p.m.
Roznowski said the event will see at least one major new development this year.
"The huge thing that's going to be at Relay this year, and we'll never have it again here, is called Cancer Prevention Study 3," she said. "That is a study that the American Cancer Society has worked with, a nationwide study, and it's usually in bigger communities like Detroit, Midland, things like that."
Officials involved with the study, which might link genetics and geography to cancer, will set up shop in a labeled tent at the fairgrounds from 1-5 p.m. Saturday to draw blood, take waist measurements, and hand out surveys to willing participants who would receive follow-up surveys every two years for the rest of their lives.
"If you ever get diagnosed with cancer, then they pull your blood and they do all the research on this," she said. "It's an awesome opportunity for us to have, and we fought for that for several years, trying to get it up here."
Andrew Westrope can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.