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Relay for Life to step off Saturday
April 21, 2017

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When the annual Cape Coral Relay for Life returns this Saturday to Caloosa Field, behind Caloosa Middle School on 610 Del Prado Blvd., it will have a slightly different look and feel.

What won't be different is the message and that is to bring attention to the disease and help the local American Cancer Society help those with the disease.

The biggest difference is that event will take place in the daytime, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., as opposed to overnight, the traditional, and symbolic timeframe.

Amanda Dreszer, event organizer, said the relay is run by volunteers and it honors cancer survivors and their caregivers to give them a sense of community. It is the biggest fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which uses the money for research and community needs.

To get more people involved, organizers hope a daytime relay will bring more families out and more money raised.

"We have found the overnight event deterred many people from getting involved. It has helped greatly at other places where they don't have to stay overnight," Dreszer said. "It usually entails high school kids who have teams, so this gives us a bit of time with them and we don't need chaperones to make sure they aren't getting in trouble."

The event will start with a kickoff celebration that honors those who either have cancer or have been free of it for years. There is a survivor's lap, a caregiver's lap and the luminaria, which honors those lost to cancer, which will happen toward the end of the event as opposed to early on as it did at the evening event.

There will be a closing ceremony when all is said and done that honors all who have participated and those we have lost through cancer.

This year's event is expected to be more family friendly with the different schedule. The relay will have a Dr. Suess theme, which is great for the kids. There will be live bands, bounce houses, balloon monsters, games, and contests that will be going on all day.

The teams will also be selling items on and around the track, with the proceeds going to the ACS.

Dreszer said there are 15 teams signed up so far, which is fewer than what they've had in the past due to restructuring and refocusing on the core mission.

"We're rebuilding and trying to change the image and put it back toward their mission. We're here to raise money to fight cancer and some people forgot what it was about," Dreszer said.

The event means a lot to Donna Bates, who started out as a volunteer for the relay 11 years ago before she herself was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer six years ago.

"I did a lot of volunteer work for the chamber of commerce and have been on the committee for 11 years," Bates said. "This year will be more like a festival."

Bates said the original idea was to have people walk for 24 hours so people would get the feel for what it's like to be on chemo. That became too much for people, adding that the overnight hours tended to be boring, with little actually happening.

"Overnight is kind of a waste because nobody is there. People didn't like it as much when they were volunteering. We shortened it so we could walk as much as we did, but not have to stay there overnight."

So far, this year they have raised $15,000, with the hopes of raising $30,000 by the time the event year ends on Aug. 31.

For more information, go to main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife/RFLCY17FL?pg=entry&fr_id=81635

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