Participants in last year’s Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township participate in an activity at River Bends Park. This year’s event will take place May 19-20  in the  same park.

Participants in last year’s Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township participate in an activity at River Bends Park. This year’s event will take place May 19-20 in the same park.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Local Relay for Life hopes to raise more than $160K

Event to take place May 19-20 at River Bends Park

By: Joshua Gordon | Shelby - Utica News | Published May 14, 2018


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township is taking a global approach to the event this year, as organizers hope to raise a record amount during one of the state’s largest Relay for Life events.

The 12th annual Relay for Life in Shelby Township will kick off at 10 a.m. May 19 at River Bends Park, located off Ryan Road just south of 22 Mile Road. For the second year, the event will encompass the Sterling Heights and Utica communities as part of the event.

Co-organizer Tracy Goralczyk said this year’s theme is “Wipe Cancer Off the Globe.” The event has a theme every year that helps unite teams that participate, and Goralczyk said that with this year’s theme, many teams are identifying with different countries to show that cancer is something that affects people worldwide.

“We want teams to choose a country or a state, and then they do activities and decorate with that theme,” Goralczyk said. “Our goal is to keep people walking all day and all night, because cancer never sleeps.”

The Relay for Life will go on through 8 a.m. May 20, with closing ceremonies taking place at that time. For the 22 hours, there will be vendors, a silent auction going on throughout the day, activities for kids, food, a dunk tank and a cancer survivor luncheon at noon May 19.

There also will be an entertainment stage that will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as local musicians who will play throughout the day. A DJ and karaoke will be going on to keep people entertained.

Goralczyk said most teams also have activities and food available to help raise money, and those likely will tie into their theme.

The event has more than 40 teams registered, and Goralczyk said they are anticipating that around 400 people will participate. Because it is in the park, she said they also will have around 700 people stop by throughout the day.

Each team leads a fundraising effort before the event and on the day of the event. The silent auction will be part of that, as each team can put items into the auction.

Goralczyk said the goal is to raise $160,000 or more this year. Last year, the event raised just over $150,000, so the organizers feel that $160,000 is a reasonable goal to support the American Cancer Society.

“Our goal is to grow our event each year, and we have successfully,” Goralczyk said. “We always have new teams joining, and it is good to have new people take part.”

Goralczyk said that the community allowed the Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township to grow to the seventh-biggest such event in Michigan last year. She said they regularly get teams comprising students in the communities, and local businesses are always reaching out to be sponsors or to help with anything that the organizers need.

Co-organizer Kristopher Peterson said that being in the park also adds a nice touch that most other Relay for Life events don’t have, because they are more often held at schools. The park provides more space — with a track set up in the parking lot — for lunches, volleyball and things for kids to do.

Plus, the event is open to the public. Even if people don’t have a team, Peterson said everyone is welcome to stop by the park and check out the activities, walk some laps or donate to a team.

Peterson said that he has lost two grandparents to cancer, and another survived it, so he wants as many people as possible to come out and support those who need it.

“Unfortunately, cancer has affected most people,” Peterson said. “This is a way to celebrate those lives that are still here, and an opportunity to remember those we lost and to see how important this fight really is.”

For more information on the Relay for Life of Greater Shelby Township, visit