For years, Mansfield’s biggest foe in the fight against cancer has been Mother Nature, who has tried to douse the community’s enthusiasm for Relay for Life.
This year organizers have switched the American Cancer Society’s major fund-raiser from a 12-hour overnight event to noon to midnight Saturday, hopefully outsmarting the weather and bringing more people. The event also moves to Danny Jones Middle School for the first time, due to new turf installation at Legacy High School, where the fund-raiser has been held in recent years.
“It’s a team effort just like cancer,” said Paris Schake, Mansfield’s event chair. “It’s hard going through cancer by yourself. This is a team involvement event. The teams have at least one person walking at all times (for 12 hours).”
At least 18 survivors will take to the track at Danny Jones Middle School to be honored as VIPS. (“You’re a survivor once you’ve had that diagnosis,” she says.) Schake expects more to register the day of the event. Twenty-two teams have already signed up to walk, raise money and party all day.
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“We’re thrilled about having new teams like Sam’s Club and the RSC Realty team,” Schake said. “Teams can range from one to 15 people.”
In addition to a disc jockey, bounce houses and food trucks, the teams have come up with entertaining and creative ways to raise money, like Jail & Bail (pay to have someone “arrested” and locked up until they can pay to get out) and karaoke (pay to have someone sing or pay to get out of singing).
The Danny Jones cheerleaders will do a celebration lap for the survivors, plus there will be a lap for the caregvers. Luminaras in honor of those with cancer will be lit at 9:30 p.m.
“It’s so touching to think that everybody is there for one reason,” Schake said. “We’re going to fight back and we’re going to find a cure.
“The reason why I do Relay is because when you think of cancer you think of breast cancer, but there are other cancers out there, brain, skin, ovarian, bone,” she said. “My parents both had brain cancer and I was their caregiver.”
“The American Cancer Society has gone to great lengths to find a cure,” she said. “Now two of three diagnosed survive because of the research the American Cancer Society has done.
“Bring an open mind and an open purse,” Schake said.