More teams join forces at Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township

Event will take place May 20-21

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 10, 2017

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Most people’s lives have been touched by cancer in some form, either directly or indirectly. Raising money to research cures and help families battling the disease is a way that many choose to take action.

The Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township, which also encompasses Sterling Heights and Utica this year, will return to River Bends Park from 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20, to 8 a.m. Sunday, May 21. 

The idea is to have a team member walking laps at all times to signify that “cancer never sleeps.” This year, the theme of the event is “Toon Out Cancer.” Teams are encouraged to get creative with a “cartoon” prompt.

Rochelle Holman, the local American Cancer Society representative, said her organization decided to consolidate the fundraiser because Sterling Heights’ event at Dodge Park was shrinking, Utica’s was nonexistent, and Shelby Township’s was growing.

This will be the 11th annual Relay for Life event in Shelby Township; last year, it had its biggest year yet, weighing in at seventh in the state of Michigan.

Event chairwoman Lauren Conn said this year’s event is on par to surpass last year’s, with 12 more teams, just less than 500 participants and approximately 60 survivors already registered, as well as approximately $75,000 of its $150,000 fundraising goal already reached, at press time.

The event will include fun activities throughout the day, a silent auction, live entertainment, a DJ, vendors selling all manner of goods to benefit the American Cancer Society, a survivor lap, a catered survivor lunch, a luminaria ceremony for those who lost their battle with cancer, and more.

“It’s so great seeing the excitement from everybody and having people get involved from Sterling Heights,” Conn said. “(Sterling Heights Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Ziarko) will come out and join us for the opening ceremony. It’s going to be great.”

Kathy Bourlier, captain of the Sterling Heights Lioness Club’s relay team, said the group has participated in the Sterling Heights Relay for Life for many years. She said the group plans to decorate its site with a Wonder Woman theme, offer a tie-dye T-shirt station, and sell bookmarks and various other goods.

“We got involved with the relay because so many of us were touched by cancer or are survivors,” Bourlier said. “We’re thrilled to be in Shelby. Even though we are the Sterling Heights Lionesses and we certainly want to support Sterling Heights, we want to be with a group that is going to be successful.”

For the first time, Conn and other Relay for Life volunteers also cooked a complimentary breakfast for cancer survivors and their families March 19. She said she hopes to grow the appreciation breakfast into an annual tradition.

Conn’s mother, Margie Conn, is a breast cancer survivor and a major player in the local relay event. The mother-daughter team launched the Shelby Township event to give back after Margie Conn received her cancer-free diagnosis 12 years ago.

“It’s never too late for donating, getting on board as a sponsor, joining a team, donating to the silent auction or anything like that,” Lauren Conn said. “People and survivors can register at the event, and survivors can be a part of our luncheon, get massages and receive a coupon book for a free item from each of the teams.”

For more information or to register for Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township, call (248) 663-3404 or visit www.relayforlife.org/shelbytownshipmi or www.facebook.com/relayforlifeofgreatershelbytownship.

River Bends Park is located at 52700 22 Mile Road, west of Shelby Road.