MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

May 2, 2013

Benefit promises a night of fun

Cancer society’s Relay for Life starts Friday

— Cancer survivors and their supporters plan to turn out for a family-friendly event to celebrate survival and raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The annual Relay For Life event begins at 6 p.m. Friday, with opening ceremonies at 7 p.m. and activities and fun throughout the night, organizers said.

The event ends at 6 a.m. Saturday, so survivors, family and friends can watch the sun rise, said public relations chairwoman Jaime Stout in a media release.

Stout said the sun rising represents the end of treatment for cancer patients.

“When participants leave the Relay, they can think of cancer patients leaving their last treatment. Just as participants are exhausted and weak, so are individuals after treatment,” she said.

Relay For Life takes place at Muskogee’s Indian Bowl, and everyone is invited, Stout said.

“We’ll have games, food, inflatables for the kids,” she said. “Every team will have a game that kids can play and we’ll walk the track all night, incorporating different games. We’ll have music too and EASTAR Health System will be providing a steak dinner for the survivors.”

For Stout, who’s participated in Relay For Life several years, raising money for Muskogee County cancer patients is important.

“My grandmother, great-grandmother and mother all have had breast cancer, along with countless family friends and co-workers have had some type of cancer,” she said.

Event chairwoman Melissa McLain said Relay For Life raises funds for such programs as Look Good, Feel Better; Road to Recovery; and other ACS programs for cancer patients.

Last year, the ACS helped more than 200 patients in Muskogee. Last year’s Relay For Life had 16 teams and 103 survivors, and for this year 22 teams and 115 survivors are signed up so far, McLain said.

“Right now, we’re still working on the fundraising, so I don’t know how much that is yet, but we’ve had over $11,000 in sponsorship money so far from local businesses,” she said. “And Arrowhead Mall just donated January, February and March’s coins from the fountain in the mall to the Bancfirst Team — more than $1,600. So that’s a big chunk of change.”

McLain said the big event is family-friendly and lots of fun, so she hopes families come participate.

“People stay up all night. We tell people they can bring sleeping bags and take a nap, but they’re going to miss something fun,” she said. “Cliff Casteel is our DJ for the night, and we’ll have all kinds of fun activities through the night. We didn’t have anybody sleep last year.”

McLain said she and other organizers are excited about several new developments, including the sponsorship of EASTAR Health System and the support from the city, particularly Mayor Bob Coburn.

“We received a mayoral proclamation from the city council on April the 8th declaring the first weekend in May as Relay for Life Days in Muskogee, Oklahoma,” she said. “And EASTAR Health System is our presenting sponsor this year and so we’re really excited about that and the relationship we have with them. They are also in the process of developing a resource room and wig room at the hospital for patients to use.”

Relay for Life’s goal this year is $45,000 for Muskogee County. Donations can be made at www.relayforlife.org/muskogeecook, McLain said.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.

If you go

WHAT: The American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Muskogee County.

WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday through 6 a.m. Saturday.

WHERE:  Indian Bowl, 402 N. S St.

INFORMATION: (918) 477-5411 or relayforlife.org/muskogeecook.

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