Charlotte Pope relays for a reason.
She relays for her mother, who Pope lost to leukemia. She relays for her uncle and for several friends who have battled cancer. She relays because cancer touched her life as early as age 12, when a classmate succumbed to the disease.
“I’ve just always wanted to do something to help, because it’s out there,” Pope said. She has participated in Williamsburg’s Relay for Life since its start, in 2001.
Just like Pope, every volunteer knows why they relay.
“We all know people who have been touched by cancer,” said Kaye Vickerman, who has been involved seven years with Relay for Life. Vickerman is a six-year breast cancer survivor; one of her close friends is currently fighting cancer.
Survivors, patients, caregivers, family, friends – anyone and everyone – are invited to “Give Cancer the Boot” at the 16th annual Relay for Life of Williamsburg, May 20-21 at Warhill High School.
As the world’s largest fundraising event to end cancer, Relay for Life occurs in thousands of communities. Teams fundraise in the months leading up to the Relay. During the big event, individuals and teams walk the track.
In 2015, 71 teams raised $225,128 at Williamsburg’s Relay for Life. This year, organizers are hoping for more. The 2016 goals include 23 new teams, 82 total teams, 740 participants, 200 survivors and $230,000 raised.
“It’s fun. It’s exciting. But it’s emotional,” event chair Erin Kelly said of the 12-hour event.
Survivors and caregivers start the night, with an inspirational first lap. Relay for Life also includes kids activities, live music, a luminaria lighting ceremony, a speaker, linedancing, zumba and an emotional dove-release ceremony in the morning. It’s a time of healing and hope.
“There’s just thousands of people there,” Kelly said. “Every single one of these people is there for the same reason.”
“Just the whole camaraderie of all of us together fighting for this cause,” Vickerman said.
Anyone is welcome at the event. If interested in volunteering, email Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org; to join a team, email Sue Harmon at email@example.com.
Funds raised support the American Cancer Society (ACS). “We’re the largest nonprofit fundraiser for research in the world,” said Julia Bowditch, local ACS representative.
Since 1946, American Cancer Society has invested more than $4 billion in research grants. Among other developments, this research has helped confirm the link between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, as well as develop drugs to treat leukemia and advanced breast cancer. In addition to research, American Cancer Society support services, educational programs, transportation assistance and more.
Want to go?
When: 7 p.m., May 20, to 7 a.m., May 21.
Where: Warhill High School, 4615 Opportunity Way
Info: relayforlife.org/williamsburgva, 757-591-8330