Very special celebrations

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

FRANKLIN—Hundreds of people will be looking to bring more birthdays to people with cancer by participating in this weekend’s Relay for Life, a major fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

The event, which this year will be themed “Celebrating Birthdays Under the Big Top” to coincide with its large tent, will take place Saturday, June 5, east of Bronco Federal Credit Union on Stewart Drive.

“This weekend is the culmination of months of fundraising by our relay teams,” Kathy Worrell, co-chairwoman for the event, said Tuesday. “Relayers are a dedicated bunch. Regardless of our hard economic times, they keep working towards raising that dollar that just might find the cure.”

Event organizers hope to raise $128,000 this year.

The Franklin-Southampton Relay for Life has been extremely popular since it started in 1995, ranking in the top 10 nationally on a per capita basis six times. The event raised $136,672 last year.

Jane Riddick-Fries, another event co-chairwoman, said $70,000 has been raised so far, and that 24 teams and 250 participants have registered for the relay. Donations will continue to be taken all week beginning at 5 p.m. today, June 2, with Bank Night and T-shirt pickup at Burgess & Co., 101 S. Main St. in downtown Franklin.

Opening ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with the singing of the National Anthem by Cecil Edwards. Cancer survivors will then participate in the Survivor Lap, the ceremonial and inspirational first lap around the track.

A variety of games and activities will continue under the big top until the event’s culmination at 7:30 p.m., when teams will pose for photographs, be recognized and participate in the final lap and “Parade of Teams.”

At 8 p.m., the Chester Burgess Spirit of Relay Award will be presented, followed by the Luminaria Ceremony, which honors loved ones who have died from cancer. This is followed by a Fight Back Ceremony where participants vow to continue the fight against the disease.

“The Relay’s hope is that our kids won’t have to hear the diagnosis of cancer,” Worrell said. “We invite everyone to come out Saturday and join us as we celebrate birthdays under the big top.”