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Annual Relay for Life set for Friday

The effects of cancer are far-reaching.
Cancer cares nothing for ethnic backgrounds, poverty lines, genders, age or one’s standing in the community.
It can strike without notice and without regard to what may be taking place in a person’s life at the time – new mothers, successful businessmen, pastors, teachers, policemen and little league coaches.
No matter who a person is or what they might have done during their lives, cancer can come into their life directly or through the lives of a loved one and completely turn it upside down.
For this reason, the people of Franklin County continue to gather each year for the Franklin County Relay For Life event sponsored by the American Cancer Society.
This year’s event will take place on Friday at the Russellville High School Stadium with opening ceremonies beginning at 7 p.m. with the Survivors’ Lap and the Caregivers’ Lap.
Megan Lovelace, American Cancer Society community representative, has worked with Franklin County for several years now and she said she appreciates the hard work and dedication by the local citizens to make Relay For Life a success each year.
“I have never seen a community come together like Franklin County does,” Lovelace said.
“They love Relay and they love the meaning behind it. In Franklin County, it really is about a community coming together to take up the fight against cancer. This community is really special and I hope we have even more people come out for this year’s event.”
Lovelace said there will be activities that take place throughout the evening starting with entertainment from 7:30-9 p.m. by Rewind, who have become a local favorite with their up-beat songs that everyone can enjoy.
At 9 p.m., Lovelace said there will be a break in the entertainment for the special Luminaria Ceremony where luminary bags placed around the track will be lit in honor or in memory of those who have fought the battle against cancer.
Lovelace said this is always a special time for everyone at the event.
“This event is so important because each of us have been touched by cancer,” Lovelace said.
“Whether it be a family member, friend or co-worker, it has touched us all in some way and this is a time to remember them and honor them for all they have gone through and endured.”
After the Luminaria Ceremony, entertainment will resume with a Zumba session taught by Curves from 9:30-10 p.m. followed by entertainment from the RHS Show Choir from 10-10:30 p.m. and the Relay Idol singing competition from 10:30-11:30 p.m.
Lovelace said a cake walk and gift walk would also be held after the Relay Idol competition.
“Many people who come to the Relay For Life, even those who have been coming for years, don’t realize that this is an all-night event,” Lovelace said.
“Even though we always have a lot of fun at Relay, there is a meaning behind the reason why we’re there until the early morning hours and that is because it’s symbolic of the fact that cancer never sleeps.
“At 7 p.m. when it gets dark, that represents the darkest time in a patient’s journey when they’ve just been diagnosed. Between 2-3 a.m. when we are tired and want to give up and go to bed, that’s when a cancer patient wants to give up too, but we have to keep going just like they do. At 6 a.m. when the sun comes up, that is like the light at the end of a tunnel for a patient when their treatments are over and they are cured.
“People should stay all night at this event because it’s one night out of the year that we can give up for a cancer patient. It’s a way for us to show them that we support them.”
Lovelace said it’s always great when, year after year, citizens in the community continue to show up to support this event and show their support for the cancer survivors because she knows how much the event and the funds that are raised mean to cancer patients.
“Relay For Life is raising money for local cancer patients, and they need us to help get them through this battle against cancer,” she said.
“I see these cancer patients in my office everyday and to see the smile on their face when they leave after receiving a free wig, hat, scarf or help with transportation is absolutely priceless. I am so lucky to be able to work with them and see the difference that this money is making in their life.”
Lovelace said that every bit of support helps, from generous donations to faithful supporters, even if the only thing that someone can do is show up to the event and stand on the side and give an encouraging smile to the survivors as they walk their lap.
“We hope to have a great turnout this year as we come together as a community and do our part in the fight against cancer.”
In the event of rain or bad weather, the Relay For Life event will be moved to the Russellville Middle School gymnasium and activities will still go on as scheduled.