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24 hours to beat cancer

May 19, 2010 - Oxford is gearing up to spent 24 straight hours this weekend fighting a common enemy – cancer.

"Cancer touches everybody in one way or another at some point in time," said Kim Beardsley, chairwoman of Oxford's Sixth Annual Relay for Life. "We can't stop until the disease is eradicated completely."

The event, designed to raise funds and public awareness for the American Cancer Society, is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. Saturday, May 22 to 10 a.m. Sunday, May 23 at the Oxford High School football stadium.

"I think it's good to be aware and to celebrate (the people) we've lost, support the ones that are fighting and support the ones who have yet to start their journey," said the 44-year-old Oxford resident, who is a five-year survivor of breast cancer.

As of Tuesday, a total of $16,073 in donations had been banked by Relay volunteers. All the money will go toward cancer research, services, education and advocacy.

Last year's event raised $48,000. Beardsley's hoping to top that by at least $1 more after this weekend.

"It's been going well," she said. "We don't have a large committee, but we've all really pitched in. Everybody has done an amazing job."

A total of 14 teams – nine returning, five new – are set to participate in the 2010 Relay.

Because "cancer never sleeps," representatives from each team will spend 24 consecutive hours walking the track that encircles the football field.

You don't have to be a member of a Relay team to enjoy the event and support the cause.

"Everybody come out and see what it's all about," Beardsley said.

This year's Relay theme is "Happy Birthday!" because the American Cancer Society bills itself as "the official sponsor of birthdays."

The Oxford High School Marching Band will kick off this year's opening ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday.

A cancer survivor ceremony and lap will take place at 12 noon followed by a survivor luncheon. At 2 p.m. "fight back" ceremony, in which participants can pledge what they're going to do to fight back against cancer, will take place.

"We're going to focus a little more on the survivors and why we're there," Beardsley said.

A luminaria ceremony honoring those fighting cancer and those who have lost their battle will take place at 9 p.m.

Candle-lit bags with names, photos and messages will line the track as participants walk past in silence while a bagpiper plays "Amazing Grace."

As usual, the Relay will feature plenty of entertainment and wacky competitions.

The Oxford Middle School Orchestra is set to perform at 3 p.m. Choir soloists from OHS will take the stage at 7 p.m.

A box car derby race is scheduled for 2 p.m., tug-of-war for 7 p.m. and an improv comedy show, courtesy of the talented OHS Theater Company, at 11 p.m.

Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., Relay participants will keep themselves amused with a shoe toss, limbo contest, three-legged race, musical chairs and kickball game.

In addition to team tents selling food, beverages and other items as fund-raisers, there will be a silent auction from 3-7 p.m.

Closing ceremonies will begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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