Relay for Life event gets revival, adds new activities

HOPE — To rejuvenate a well-established event, new activities are being added to this year’s Hope Relay for Life.

Two musical acts have been booked for the June 4 event at the Hope Town Square to benefit the American Cancer Society, event organizer Jonna Shepherd said.

Spencer Reinle and Daniel Wasson, who are collectively known as “Hope Grown”, will perform from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

“Lei’gacy”, a well-known band comprised of members of the Cox family from Columbus, will perform from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

There also will be plenty of food choices during the event, which begins at 8 a.m. Saturday morning and continues until 11 p.m. that night.

Besides traditional fare like sloppy joes and hot dogs, members of the Hartsville Volunteer Fire Department will sponsor a fish fry during the event, Shepherd said.

However, the firefighters will turn over proceeds from the fish fry to the American Cancer Society, Shepherd said.

Back for the third year will be the Relay for Life Memorial Motorcycle Ride. Registration will begin at 11 a.m., with the ride getting starting at 12:30 p.m.

Efforts also are underway with several businesses in or near the town square to put up purple decorations in support of the local effort, Shepherd said.

Founded in 1985, Relay for Life is an organized community fundraising walk conducted in thousands of cities and towns nationwide, where teams of people take turns walking around a course or track.

Traditionally, the fundraiser is kicked off with a survivors lap, where all cancer survivors take the first lap to celebrate their victory over cancer while being cheered on by the crowd.

In many locations, a luminary ceremony takes place after dark where candles are lit inside of personalize bags as a glowing tribute to those who lost their lives to cancer.

While the Hope event has been known to bring out about 300 people, it has not attracted many new participants in recent years, Shepherd said.

New attractions are being added to the seventh annual event not only to lure first-timers, but to also address any waning interest that might exist among regular participants, she said.

For Shepherd, seeing the event fade over time in Hope isn’t an option. She is the widow of Larry Shepherd, a toolmaker who died of cancer on Sept. 24, 2011, at the age of 50.

But just one day after his passing, his grieving family wore “Team Larry” T-shirts on a float at Hope Heritage Days, and have continued to sponsor a team annually ever since.

“I’d love to see a sea of purple around the square,” she said. “It is a day to celebrate life, and we want all cancer survivors to come out.”

If you go

What:  Seventh annual Hope “Relay For Life” – a community fundraising walk to benefit the American Cancer Society.

When:  Saturday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Where:  Town square in Hope

Information: 812-603-0351

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.