Relay for Life set for daytime this year

Published 7:45 pm Friday, February 13, 2009

The American Cancer Society’s Decatur County Relay for Life is marking its 16th year by holding its fund-raising events during the daytime, a change from past years.

This year’s Relay for Life will be held on Saturday, March 14, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the track at Bainbridge High School, located at 1301 E. College St.

Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s nationwide signature fund-raising event. The annual event involves teams of 10 to 15 people who raise money in advance through donations and fund-raising to support cancer research, education programs, patient services and advocacy.

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“Cancer is the number one health concern for Americans,” said Beth Zotyka, community manager for the American Cancer Society in an area that includes Decatur County. “One-point-four million Americans are diagnosed with cancer each year.”

In 2008, it was estimated that more than half a million Americans, including approximately 15,000 Georgians, died from a cancerous disease, according to statistics on the American Cancer Society’s Web site,

The day of the relay, teams camp out and take turns walking or running around the track while they enjoy hours of fun, food, entertainment and camaraderie in a celebration of life. Inspirational moments during the relay include the survivors’ reception and victory lap and the beautiful luminary ceremony, when candles will be lit in honor and in memory of people who have fought cancer.

Where Relay money goes

More than 90 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to The American Cancer Society, according to a news release. And 60 percent of all funds stay in the community to support local programs for patients.

Local programs include Road to Recovery, which offers free transportation to and from doctor appointments; providing patients and family with free lodging at the Hope Lodge near Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital; and patient support counseling specially tailored to male or female cancer patients.

Last year’s relay raised $65,680 for cancer research and local programs, said Zotyka, who spoke to the Bainbridge Kiwanis Club on Thursday. The American Cancer Society is second only to the United States government among not-for-profit groups in the money it spends to conduct cancer research, Zotyka said.

How to participate

For more information on becoming a corporate sponsor of Relay for Life, call Gerard Kwilecki at (229) 416-5947 or e-mail him at To sign up as a participant, start a team, register as a cancer survivor, or read more news and information, visit the local Relay for Life Web site at

This year’s chairman is Suzy Harrison, who can be reached at 416-5997.

Relay committee meetings will be held Feb. 17 and March 3, while relay team captain meetings will be held on Feb. 19 and March 5. All meetings will be held at 6 p.m. at Georgia Industries for the Blind, located at 700 Jack Wingate Highway (Georgia 97 South).