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Relay For Life in Green attracting support from friends

6/6/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

Green Relay For Life participants are shown walking the Survivors’ Lap at a previous event. According to the American Cancer Society, during the Survivors Lap, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while being cheered on by the other participants who line the track.
Photo: Krista Galloway
GREEN — The 11th annual Relay For Life of Green will take place this year June 14-15 at Akron General Health and Wellness Center — Green, 1940 Town Park Blvd., with a few changes.

The event, organized through the American Cancer Society, raises awareness about cancer and funds, according to Jennifer Jesser-Ringer, who returns as chairman of the event after several years away as an organizer.

During the event, teams of people walk around a track overnight to raise funds for research and support for a number of cancer-related programs, according to the Relay For Life website. Jesser-Ringer said this year there are 20 teams registered to participate.

“We are calling this event a ‘friend-raiser’ instead of a fundraiser to rebuild, bring awareness and increase attendance to the event while cheering on our survivors,” said Jesser-Ringer.

Jesser-Ringer added that in keeping with that theme, numerous “friends” will participate in the outdoor event.

First, Akron General’s LifeStyles (a medically supervised fitness gym and membership program at Akron General’s Health & Wellness Centers), has agreed to host the activities, offering its indoor track and banquet facilities to participants should the weather turn bad.

“What better place to host an event to bring awareness to a disease than a health care facility that provides education about cancer,” said Jesser-Ringer, who is a two-time cancer survivor, first from ovarian cancer and then Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She said she has been cancer free for 10 years.

The Summit County Sheriff’s Office will perform a flag presentation during opening ceremonies, which will begin at 6 p.m. June 14, followed by Green High School senior Dara Willis singing the national anthem and opening remarks by Green Mayor Dick Norton and Lt. Gov. and Department of Insurance Director Mary Taylor, a resident of Green.

Jesser-Ringer said numerous local businesses are also supporting the event through donations of items to support participants.

“Then the stars of the show — the cancer survivors — will take the first lap around the track escorted by Ohio Legends football team members, who will also be available to sign autographs for and toss a football with visitors,” she added.

Jesser-Ringer said this part of the event is important because it shows survivors that people care and they are there to support them through their fight against cancer.

“This lap tells them they will be OK,” she said. “The event also offers lasting friendships.”

Jesser-Ringer added that another important activity that evening is the luminaria ceremony, which offers an opportunity to purchase a luminaria to honor a survivor or in memory of someone they lost. At dusk, the candles in each bag are lit and the names of everyone are called off.

A number of activities will be available through the night and into the next day as fundraisers, according to Jesser-Ringer.

The LifeStyles program will offer swimming and rock climbing for a small fee, massage therapists will give chair massages and a silent auction will take place from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Also, a variety of food will be available for purchase.

Funds raised from these and other activities at Relay For Life do “a lot of good,” according to Jesser-Ringer.

“While some goes to education, awareness and research, much of it stays in the local community to help families [dealing with cancer] with meals, cleaning homes, transportation to treatments and more,” she said.

Also planned for the evening are performances by the Green Youth Bulldog Cheerleaders, 8 Count Dance Studio and the Green High School Ensemble; appearances by Canton Charge Mascot Pozzie; face painting; and free fingerprinting for children courtesy of GASP (Guardians Advocating Child Safety and Protection).

Closing ceremonies will take place June 15 at noon. Entrance to the event is free for visitors.

Teams can still join the effort to raise funds, but may not be recorded in the program, according to Jesser-Ringer.

For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/greenoh.

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