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Relay for Life going strong

by Elisha Morrison | December 28, 2015 at 9:58 a.m.

The Garland County Relay for Life is going strong heading into 2016, according to Donna Kaye Smith, community manager for the Relay for Life Mid-South Division.

At the end of the 2015 Relay for Life, the Garland County Relay was once again named No. 1 in the state, with more than $214,000 raised for cancer research. Smith said everyone has seemed excited after last year's relay.

Kickoff for the 2016 Relay for Life took place in October. So far, fundraising is $2,000 ahead of the same time a year ago. Smith said normally fall and winter are slower fundraising times so "to be ahead is great."

The Garland County relay already has 29 registered teams, about half of last year's final total. The goal for this year is 62 teams. Smith said there are no limits on team size. They could be anything from two-person family teams up to schools with 150 members.

"We want everyone to participate," Smith said.

The 2016 relay theme is "Travelin' Arkansas for a Cure." Teams select themes based on attractions, events and everything Arkansas is known for. Teams so far have selected themes including Camping for a Cure, Chuck Wagon Races, Hot Springs Bathhouses, Hunting for a Cure, The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and Razorbacks.

Smith said she is looking forward to seeing how creative the different teams will get with the theme.

Diamonds has been selected as the theme to represent all the cancer survivors. All events are at no charge to survivors and they will receive a free T-shirt and a medallion. Survivors will be treated to a lunch in April and a dinner on the day of the 2016 Relay. The survivor walk will once again kick off the 2016 relay. Smith encourages relay participants to show up early to cheer for the walk.

The Garland County relay volunteers work year round to get ready for the event, and are currently concentrating on attracting new sponsors, retaining veteran sponsors, and planning for the event.

This year organizers are planning a kid-zone activities area. Smith said it will be a safe place for children to enjoy themselves while allowing their parents to walk the track without worrying. There will be volunteers to keep an eye on the children. The zone is still in the planning stage, but Smith said she hopes to have many groups decide to host child-friendly activities that can be placed side by side in the zone.

Smith said her biggest challenge for relay is always recruiting enough volunteers for the event. Volunteers are needed to join teams, work on the committee, help recruit sponsors, sell luminaries, work with survivors and help set up the event.

"We are blessed in Garland County to have such great volunteers, but we could always use more," said Smith.

The 2016 relay will be from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. June 3 in the Bank of the Ozarks Arena.

Local on 12/28/2015

Print Headline: Relay for Life going strong

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