Source: Sherman Publications

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Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville kick-off party

by Susan Bromley

February 22, 2012

Relay for Life 2011
Julie Graveldinger doesn't know anyone, regardless of age, whose life has not been touched by cancer.

What she does know is how to fight back against the disease and she invites the community to learn how at the Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville Kick-Off Party, planned for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 28, at North Oaks Community Church, 9600 Ortonville Road.

"Everyone is invited to the kick-off party," said Graveldinger. "It is our fifth year, we're going strong and we're on pace to reach all of our goals... It's a phenomenal thing that our community is so close, there are no signs of us slowing down and so many people are passionate about this issue."

Relay for Life is a 24-hour walk and the American Cancer Society's signature event to raise funds and awareness for all types of cancers. Walkers typically sign up as part of a team, averaging 12-15 members, with each team having a member to represent them on the track throughout the 24 hours. Organizers have themed laps for fun that have included hula hoop, bubble, 3-legged, 70s, 80s, pajama, singalong, backwards, and Mr. Relay. The party-like atmosphere also includes a disc jockey, live musical entertainment, bounce houses, dunk tanks, clowns, volleyball, and much more. In the evening, a touching luminaria ceremony honors those who have lost their fight to the disease.

At the kick-off party, attendees will receive information about what relay is, as well as how to form a team, be a team captain and raise funds. The 5th annual Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville is planned for 10 a.m. June 16 to 10 a.m., June 17 at the Varsity Drive Football Field, 209 Varsity Drive, Ortonville.

Graveldinger, chairperson for the 2012 Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville, is excited about new ideas to make the relay even more enjoyable and fun. Relay Recess is a new program designed to get elementary school aged children involved. Also discussed at the kick-off party will be this year's Relay theme— sports, coinciding with the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Teams are encouraged to decorate their sites celebrating specific professional or school sports teams, or even just a sport in general.

At the kick-off party, Graveldinger will announce awards the Brandon Relay program received from the American Cancer Society for their 2011 efforts, including the All-American Relay Award, which recognizes growth in survivor, team and fundraising development, as well as the Nationwide Top 10 Per Capita Award.

"The Brandon/Ortonville Relay was number three in the nation for the per-capita award," said Graveldinger. "It's an awesome award. Of all the relays, we were number three in terms of most participants for the size of the community."

The Relay for Life of Brandon/Ortonville has a goal this year of signing up 38 teams and raising $86,010 in the fight against cancer.

"We have standards and goals and this community goes above and beyond," said Theresa Hurley, ACS Relay for Life community representative. "The kick-off party is a great opportunity to come out and find out how you can make a difference in the fight against all cancers. You certainly don't want to miss the biggest weekend in Ortonville, which is June 16. The kick-off party helps you get ready for that."

To RSVP for the kick-off party or for more information, call Theresa Hurley at 248-663-3427 or e-mail