Weather conditions Friday night and Saturday are expected to be optimum, which is a far cry from the 2013 event in which organizers were forced to shut down operations early in anticipation of an unwelcomed — but forecast — spring deluge.
And so it is, with Mother Nature’s blessings, that we encourage proponents of the ongoing battle against cancer of all types, names, varieties and origins to plan to be a part of this year’s Relay for Life with your attendance.
Volunteers have been working for months planning the 25-hour marathon which will serve up a family blend of festiveness, emotion and inspiration. Their efforts have been supported through the good will and big hearts of loved ones, close friends and eager co-workers — many of whom are cancer survivors, some of whom are currently locked in a battle against the dread disease and all of whom share a common cause.
Those who show up — at whatever time of afternoon, night or morning — won’t be disappointed.
Most Relay for Life enthusiasts already know many of the details and many still cling to a special “Finish The Fight” supplement that was included in the Thursday, April 24, edition of our newspaper.
But for any who missed it, as well as for those who didn’t, here’s a brief recap of what you can expect. A few of the times have changed slightly over the past week.
By 5 p.m. on Friday, the “camp site” in downtown Cleveland — which is the perimeter surrounding the Bradley County Courthouse — will be set up and luminary sales will begin. The Relay “gates” will officially open downtown at 7 p.m. and will be followed by the opening ceremonies at 7:15.
Kicking off the popular overnight event will an opening prayer, playing of the National Anthem and an address by Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland.
And then the festivities really get underway.
Attendees can expect some of these activities and entertainment: 7:30 p.m., On Stage Dance Company; 8 p.m., Lake Forest Middle School show choir (Revolution); 9 p.m., the reflective Luminary Ceremony which includes the Memory/Luminary Lap; 10 p.m., WCCR and announcements; 10:15 p.m., Zach Dylan Band; 11:30 p.m., Blues Hammer Band; 12:30 a.m. (Saturday), WCCR and announcements; 12:45 a.m., Bad Tattoo; and from 2 to 6 a.m. will come the Rainbow Lap, Pajama Lap, karaoke and Rock On Lap. Activities are still being lined up for the 4:30 to 7 a.m. time span.
At 7 a.m. will come “Good Morning Bradley County” with Steve Morgan; 8 a.m., a sunrise service; 10 a.m., Opening Ceremony; 10:15 a.m., Survivor Ceremony; 10:45 a.m., Team Lap and team photos; 11:30 a.m., the Ocoee Middle School Jazz Band; Noon, The Collins Brothers Band; 1:15 p.m., WCCR and announcements; 1:30 p.m., Locks of Love event; 2:30 p.m., Axe Blade; 4:30 p.m., No One Special; and from 6 to 7 p.m. will come the closing ceremony featuring the Dexter Thomas Band.
Truly, Cleveland and Bradley County residents will be treated to an active 25 hours of entertainment, reflection and inspiration.
Any who have battled cancer themselves or who have supported loved ones in their own fights for life understand the power of community. That’s why there’s a Relay for Life and that’s why Cleveland and Bradley County residents have embraced it for so many years.
But here’s another reason. And we’ll borrow the words of a cancer survivor — Bradley County Circuit Court Clerk Gayla Miller, who fought Stage 3 melanoma, and whose mom — Carlean Harris — died of pancreatic cancer.
In the recent “Finish the Fight” publication, she wrote, “When you are faced with this challenge yourself, it is a comfort knowing the success stories of other cancer survivors. Relay for Life is an outpouring of love, compassion and support to continue cancer research with the ultimate goal to end this dreaded disease.”
Other than Gayla’s closing comment — “... As a survivor, I thank you.” — that just about says it all.
We hope to see you there.