SALEM - Salem's 2013 Relay for Life will be held from 5:45 p.m. Friday until noon Saturday at Waterworth Memorial Park. This year's circus-themed fundraiser, "Relay Under the Big Top," will be filled with food, games and many special events.
"[Relay for Life] is like a carnival in a way, but with a purpose," said Bev Berger, the Salem Relay for Life chairman of over 20 years.
Every year, cancer survivors are invited to take the first ceremonial lap to kick off the fundraising walk, followed by a dinner in their honor. Berger said about 100 survivors participate every year.
"We always begin with a celebration for survivors," Berger said.
After the opening ceremony, the 19 different Relay teams will take to the track, and the event's many festivities will begin. A new event this year will be the live auction of donated items by Hofmeister Realty and Auction at 7 p.m. on Friday, with Harry Hofmeister as the auctioneer.
Later that night is the traditional luminaria ceremony, in which the luminarias lining the track are lit while a screen scrolls the names of those lost to cancer and those still surviving. Luminarias, white bags with candles that bear the name of those affected by cancer, are dedicated by Relay for Life participants and donors.
"That's a very serious part of Relay," Berger said. "It's just a way of remembering people we have lost and honoring people that are still with us."
Relay activities continue throughout the night with special themed laps on the track, like a high-heeled lap and a backward lap, a scavenger hunt, and a Mountain Dew pong tournament, as well as various activities at the team tents.
A DJ will be coming in at 9 a.m. Saturday. At 10 a.m. there will be a mini circus event for the kids, complete with Grotto clowns, a magician and carnival games.
Also taking place that morning will be a Pantene haircutting event at 9:30 a.m., in which people can have their hair cut and donated to make wigs for cancer patients. Those interested need to donate at least seven inches of hair. The Relay wraps up at noon Saturday with a closing ceremony.
Relay for Life is a team based fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. It is a national event, but the money raised at Salem's relay will stay in the community.
"It's an arm of the American Cancer Society, but the money that's raised through Relay for Life is handled differently," Berger said. "It stays in the county where the money is raised."
She said this event is in honor of people affected by cancer but it is also a community event that is "open to anyone who wants to come." She said she loves to have as many people as possible from the community attend.
"There isn't one of us that's reading that paper that hasn't been touched by cancer," Berger said. "[Relay for life] is just a way to support them and support the cause, and have fun at the same time."