Relay events focus on camaraderie, fun, healing

By: Sara Kandel | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 4, 2013

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ROSEVILLE — For 24 hours beginning at 10 a.m. June 8, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life of Roseville and Eastpointe will take over Roseville’s Memorial Park with live entertainment, activities and more.

This year, more than 20 teams will camp out at Memorial Park, located at 27325 Barkman St., offering fundraising fun for fellow participants and visitors, alike.

Live music starts at noon, following the opening ceremonies, with various local bands playing hour-long sets until 7 p.m. Karaoke takes over the main stage until the 10 p.m. luminaria ceremony, which is followed by a little more karaoke until midnight, and then family-friendly movies will be played on a big screen throughout the night. The 24-hour campout will also include a live professional wrestling exhibition, Zumba classes and a hula-hoop contest.

With just as much entertainment and activity, last year’s event brought in thousands of people, with 21 teams spending the night in the park and raising more than $75,000. The event has grown a little each year, and organizers are hopeful that this year will follow suit and bring in even more support for the cause.

Roseville resident Terry Brown-McAuliffe has been attending the annual event since 2006. After seeing a flyer for the event in her church, Brown-McAuliffe decided to give it a try.

“I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in October 2005 and I still had a void I needed to fill,” Brown-McAuliffe said before describing what the event was like back in its early days. “There were only four teams who spent the night that year, so there was really a sense of camaraderie, fellowship and family. It was a very healing experience.”

That year, they raised $16,000. Organizers couldn’t confirm when the Relay first started in Roseville, but many estimate that it was sometime between 2002 and 2005, and as with the years that have followed since, the money raised was most likely more than they had made the previous year.

Brown-McAuliffe has been a driving force behind the growth of the Roseville-Eastpointe Relay. Each year, she brings a team to the event and, just like the other teams that have been coming for years, her team has a pretty popular booth.

Theirs is the lap bracelet booth. For $3, they provide anyone at the event with a bead for each lap they walk and a string to put them on.

“The track is about a quarter mile, so every four beads is a mile and you can get all the beads you can fit on the bracelet, and if you fill up the bracelet and are still going, we will give you another one for free because anyone that is doing that many laps deserves it,” she said.

Other teams partake in other activities — one team is known for walking tacos, another team for face painting and another for jewelry sale — but each year brings new booths, too, and last year’s event saw a manicure/pedicure booth and various game booths.

This year’s event will feature an assortment of new booths and activities, one in particular that Brown-McAuliffe is very much looking forward to — a silent auction, which is from 1-3 p.m., that is the combined effort of many teams. If all goes well, the silent auction is likely to become an annual event.

The luminaria event seems to be the overall favorite of most Relay attendees. Brown-McAuliffe calls it healing. Fellow Relay support Kathy Smith calls it beautiful.

“I’m really excited to have the kids come out to walk probably sometime in the afternoon on (June 8) and to thank two really big sponsors that donated lots of money, I think that’s at 1 p.m., but my favorite event is the luminaria,” Smith said. “It’s beautiful and if you haven’t seen it before, the first time you see it is really moving.”

The luminaria ceremony is a ceremony to honor those who have lost their fight to cancer; other events, like the survivors walk, focus on people who have defeated cancer and others are just about friendship, camaraderie and fun.

“We are definitely about fun,” Brown-McAuliffe said. “One team is bringing in a bounce house; another is bringing in pro wrestlers. We’ve done trick-or-treat laps in the past, hula-hoop contests, mini carnival games.

“Once you go, it hooks you. You have to go year to year. It’s addictive. You’ll start looking for (Relay) events in other parts of Michigan.”

For more information on the Relay for Life of Roseville and Eastpointe, call (800) 227-2345 or visit www.acsevents.org and search for Relay for Life of Roseville and Eastpointe.

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