"We begin planning the event in the fall of the year before Relay takes place. The planning committee forms in September and the process begins," said Norene Jones, a 29-year cancer survivor and relay co-chair. "The steering committee typically consists of about 20 volunteers who chair the entertainment, survivorship, luminaria, publicity, sponsorship, finance online registration and team development committees."
The event kicks off in January, this year with a chili cook-off, and all of the fundraising and organizing continues to lead up to the 24-hour event Saturday.
Hitting a financial goal of $82,000 takes months of planning, but the most important goal is raising awareness, Jones said.
"It's important to raise awareness to this dreadful disease by honoring our survivors, remembering our loved ones lost to the disease and creating a world with more birthdays by raising the monies necessary to fund education, advocacy, research and patient services," she said.
And while raising awareness, the 30 teams (12 new, 18 returning) registered for the day will play games, run on-site fundraisers, enjoy live entertainment and camp out.
New this year is a performance from a local singer-songwriter, Jody Soland, who records in Nashville and has written a survivor/caregiver song specifically for the Stow-Munroe Falls event.
There will be a cornhole tournament, dunk tank, carnival games for "Little Relayers" and a 50/50 raffle duck drop from the Stow Fire Department's fire truck.
"The Geico car will also be making a special appearance supporting the Road to Recovery Program for patients undergoing cancer treatment," Jones said.
This year Chief Louis Dirker, who is currently undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is serving as Ambassador to the event.
While everyone involved is focused on raising awareness, the goal to raise $82,000 is somewhat of a challenge, given the current economic climate, said Jones.
"We are currently at $50,000," she said, adding last year the event raised $70,000.