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Relay for Life starts Saturday

June 15, 2012
By JOHANNA BOYLE - Journal Ishpeming Bureau ( , The Mining Journal

ISHPEMING - The 17th annual Relay For Life in Marquette County is set to kick off this weekend, running Saturday and Sunday at the Al Quaal Recreation Area in Ishpeming.

With a theme this year of "Tune Out Cancer," the 24-hour relay gives cancer survivors, families of those who have been affected by cancer and community members to come together to raise awareness and money so that others will not have to suffer from the disease. The Relay For Life nationally benefits the American Cancer Society.

"We have a record amount of teams and that's always a good thing," said Carl Fulsher of the American Cancer Society. The Relay has already raised $67,000 with organizers hoping to top $100,000 in donations.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday at Al Quaal, the relay involves teams of walkers who keep up a constant circuit around the park throughout the night into Sunday morning, many camping out around the relay course. Special events run throughout the weekend and range from the placement of luminaries honoring victims and survivors to music to kids activities to team parades.

A particularly special event this year is the chance for Relay participants to take part in the American Cancer Society's Cancer Prevention Study 3 from 4-8 p.m.

"That's huge," Fulsher said. "We're hoping to get close to 200 people enrolled so they can really see what's going on in the U.P."

The study, which is open to those age 30-65 who have not been diagnosed with cancer except for basal or squamous cell skin cancer, is conducted through a brief survey, body measurements and a blood sample drawn by a trained phlebotomist. Following the initial survey, study participants will receive and be asked to complete additional surveys at home over the next 20 to 30 years, allowing the ACS to further study the causes of cancer and what seems to prevent it.

If there is enough of a response from participants, Fulsher said the study could also be expanded to Houghton and Sault Ste. Marie. In particular men are needed to participate.

The study is open to participation from the general public, not just those who are participating in the Relay.

Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., participating teams will participate in a parade of teams, followed by an auction at 3 p.m. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the YMCA of Marquette County will provide kids games and activities, while cancer survivors can participate in the study.

At 8:30 p.m., cancer survivor Cathy O'Donnell will speak, kicking off a relay lap specifically for cancer survivors.

The relay will then recognize the toll cancer takes on those who are touched by it by a ceremony honoring patient caregivers at 9 p.m. and a luminaria ceremony at 9:30 p.m.

Following that period of reflection, the Relay turns into a party with a street dance that runs from 10:30 p.m. until midnight.

While the Relay continues with walkers throughout the night, the events start up again Sunday morning with a 6 a.m. sunrise church service, breakfast at 7 a.m. and a closing ceremony and final laps at 9 a.m.

Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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