The Virgin Islands chapter of the American Cancer Society will hold its annual Relay for Life fundraiser at the St. Croix Educational Complex starting Saturday at 2 p.m. and ending Sunday at 10 a.m.
Begun as a local event in Tacoma, Wash., in 1985, Relay for Life has grown into the American Cancer Society’s largest and most recognizable fundraising event. More than 53,000 relay events take place every year across the United States, and similar fundraisers have sprung up in 20 other countries.
At the St. Croix event, 40 teams of 15 people each will walk around the school’s track for 18 hours and collect donations in the form of pledges.
The event will begin with a parade around the track featuring performers and mocko jumbies at 2 p.m. The relay will begin at 4 p.m.
Following tradition, the first lap of the relay will be walked by all of the cancer survivors in attendance.
Lorrain Baa, executive director of the V.I. chapter of ACS, said that beyond raising money, the event was an opportunity to honor those in the community who have beaten the disease and celebrate the years that have been added to their lives.
“That’s what we’re all about, celebrating birthdays,” she said.
Survivors will also be honored at a pair of dinners held outside at the track at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Attendees must reserve a spot with ACS before the event.
At 9 p.m., a luminaria ceremony will be held. Candles held in small white bags lining the track will be lit, each one dedicated to an individual who lost his or her battle with cancer or is still fighting.
Luminaria can be purchased from the ACS the day of the event.
Team members will take turns walking the track throughout the night, which Baa said serves to remind people that “cancer never sleeps.”
“When we walk together, we’re bigger than cancer,” she said.
Baa said it was too late to register new teams but she encouraged the community to come out and cheer on the participants. Donations to ACS will also be collected.
For more information contact, the V.I. chapter of the American Cancer Society at 775-5373.