Hundreds expected for Clinton Township Relay for Life on May 18-19

By: Nico Rubello | C&G Newspapers | Published May 8, 2013

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Some see it as a sign of solidarity for people who have cancer or for those survived it. Others attend to remember a loved one lost.

For others, it’s a fun weekend event filled with plenty of live music, food and friends. Or it can be a chance to raise dollars for local cancer support services.

Whatever their motivation, hundreds of participants are expected to turn out for Clinton Township’s Relay for Life, an outdoor walkathon that begins at 10 a.m. May 18. For 24 hours straight, people will walk the track at the Chippewa Valley Ninth Grade Center at Romeo Plank and 19 Mile roads.

“Cancer never sleeps,” said Maureen Rovas, an American Cancer Society community representative for the Clinton Township event. “So we take a full 24 hours to fight back.”

Organizers have said the Clinton Township Relay has become one of the biggest Relays for Life in southeastern Michigan. Rovas said the event seems to grow every year, with this year looking like no exception, since their were more teams registered as of May 1 than their were in 2012.

Consequently, so does the amount of money raised for the American Cancer Society, which put the dollars back into cancer programs and services, like support groups and free transportation to and from treatment.

Last year, hundreds turned out to ultimately raise in excess of $185,000, topping 2011. Proceeds from the events, which are held all over the world, go to the American Cancer Society. Many of the teams try to have at least one of their members walking at all times.

This year, more than 50 teams have already signed up, and organizers, hoping that the event will exceed last year’s total, have set a goal of $200,000.

The event will kick off with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m. May 18. A celebration of cancer survivors at caregivers will take place at noon. Around 10 p.m., a luminaria ceremony will be held for attendees to light candles and place them in paper bags to remember those who have lost their lives to cancer.

“Spend a few minutes or several hours. They don’t have to be part of a team to be there,” Rovas said. “They can come at any time during that 24-hour time period.”

Meanwhile, live music and entertainment will be going on throughout. Those who aren’t walking around the track raise money by selling concessions and trinkets from campsites set up on the grassy infield.

For instance, the Clinton Township Teen Advisory Council also will be holding a silent auction on the infield to raise money for Relay for Life. The service group, made up of Clinton Township middle school and high school students, will be putting a quilt and gift baskets with local business vouchers up for bid, among other items.

Elizabeth Boyd, of Sterling Heights, plans to be among those at the event this year, returning for the 10th year with her team, Florence’s Friends. The team is named after her sister, who passed away from cancer six years ago.

Boyd said she has had breast cancer twice and watched her other sister fight it once, so it’s an issue close to the team’s heart. Florence’s Friends has raised more than $65,000 through fundraisers the team puts on year-round, Boyd said.

“It makes you feel like you’re really making a difference,” said Boyd, who has had breast cancer twice. “Just to see all the people out there, supporting you and the American Cancer Society — it’s just heartwarming.”

Individuals and teams can pre-register and fundraise prior to the event by going to www.relayfor life.org/clintontownshipmi, or they can sign up the day of the event. Those interested in attending also can call (248) 663-3444 for more information.

Look for other Relays for Life going on around Macomb County in May or June by visiting www.relayforlife.org.

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