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Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville

June 05, 2013 - Ortonville- Everyone is welcome at the area's largest 24-hour summer party, taking place next weekend.

The 2013 Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville is set for 10 a.m. June 15 to 10 a.m., June 16 at the Varsity Track, 209 Varsity Drive in the village.

"Everyone needs to come, the public is welcome, it's family friendly," said Event Chair Julie Graveldinger. "We hear a lot that people didn't know what Relay is all about. Everyone is welcome to come see what it is all about. Relay is about how people are so willing to help. You don't have to fight alone, there are a lot of people in your court. The fight isn't just about your individual family and friends, it's about everybody and it brings a sense of comraderie."

This is the sixth annual local event. Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event to fight back against the disease. The Brandon/Ortonville Relay currently has 29 teams registered, which as of presstime had raised nearly half of a goal of $75,000.

This year's Relay theme is "Games," and there will be plenty of fun and games for everyone who attends, regardless of whether they are registered on a team. Each team has chosen a game and will decorate their booth. Entertainment at the event will include a DJ, live bands, Karaoke, and belly dancing demonstrations.

Each team will have a member on the track during the 24 hours, alternating turns or walking together in the fight against cancer. Themed laps will include tutu, birthday, bubble, trick-or-treat, Hawaiian, 80s, Mardi Gras, 50s, Uno, bad hair and make a new friend among many others.

The Survivor Lap this year has been moved to a new time—starting at 1 p.m., June 15, from it's former time of opening the event. The new time allows the focus to stay on survivors. Butterflies will be released prior to the beginning of the lap and there will be a special guest speaker who will share her story as a cancer survivor. Butterflies can be purchased for $5 each, with all proceeds going to ACS for research and support services for cancer patients. Woman's Life Chapter 828 will match up to $500 raised from the sales of butterflies.

The luminaria lap, held in the evening, will get a new touch this year, too. Relay Vice-Chair Mary Woods said participants will have glow sticks during this lap, in which each person can "snap" their glow stick in remembrance of a loved one, slowly taking the lap from dark to light.

Woods, who was new to Relay in 2011, is going to be at the event for all 24 hours this year.

"I am looking forward to watching people and seeing what they are like at 3 or 4 a.m.," she laughs. "These people are hardcore. I am also looking forward to hearing people's stories."

Woods' mother survived breast cancer and two bouts of colon cancer before dying in 2009 from Alzheimer's Disease. Her father was diagnosed two years ago with cancer that was in his bladder, liver and lungs. He died in February 2012. Her aunt also died within four weeks of her father from pancreatic cancer.

"It's become my passion to (Relay)," said Woods. "Someday, I would like the words, 'You have cancer,' to be no worse than the words, 'You have a cold.' I don't want the word cancer to be any more miserable than a cold and you go on with your life. We are a long way from that, but someday, we'll get there."

For more information, to form a team, or to register as a survivor, go to www.relayforlife.org/brandon mi or call Mary Woods at 248-627-5530.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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