ELKO — Every year, communities across the country take a day — all 24 hours — to celebrate cancer survivors, remember lost loved ones and fight back against a disease that has affected so many.
“Everyone in their life will be — if they haven’t already been — touched by cancer,” said Tera Hooiman, entertainment chair for Relay for Life.
This year’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is scheduled for July 21 and 22 at the Elko High School track. All proceeds for Relay for Life go to the American Cancer Society for cancer research and education.
As of last week, 29 teams were signed on for the Elko event. Out of the 399 participants, about $25,000 has been raised so far.
The theme for this year’s event is “Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back” — a theme taken literally by the relay committee and inspired a brand new event this year.
Deemed the Superhero Contest, attendees will be given the chance to take on a type of cancer of their choosing, complete with costume and superpowers.
“We’re encouraging walkers and participants to dress up in their best superhero garb and pick a type of cancer they want to fight back against,” said Hooiman.
As part of the fight back ceremony in the early morning hours of July 22, these superheroes will have the chance to show off their costumes on stage, and tell attendees what type of power they use to fight cancer.
These superheroes will then prowl throughout the camps to collect donations for the specific type of cancer they fight against.
“The winner is based on how they presented themselves on stage and how much money they collected, and their team will get that pot of money,” said Hooiman.
Other on- and off-site fundraisers are also planned for the weekend.
An annual event, the Celebrity Pie Auction is scheduled from 8-11 a.m. Friday, and residents can tune into Elko Broadcasting — KELK 1240 AM or Jack FM 93.7 — for the live broadcast.
“We send celebs from studio to studio to talk about themselves and their pies, to try and raise some money for the event,” said Paul Gardner with Elko Broadcasting.
Those who listen in can support the local celebrities by bidding on a pie to be thrown into the face of some of Elko’s finest.
“We have a lot of awesome people who have committed to doing that,” said Hooiman.
The following day Relay for Life kicks off at the Elko High School track, where all survivors are invited to attend the survivor lunch at noon July 21. Breakfast is provided by Gold Dust West.
Opening ceremonies immediately follow the breakfast, with a survivor victory lap at 1 p.m. After this lap, all teams need to have someone walking on the track at all times until the final lap the next day.
A variety of honorary laps will take place throughout the day, which are completed in honor of people who have lost their lives to cancer or those who are currently fighting the disease.
Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital is in charge of the luminaria ceremony, tentatively scheduled for 9 p.m. July 21.
“It’s exciting. It’s very personal, and once you’ve been to one, you’ll want to go again,” said NNRH Business Development Director Kerry Aguirre. “This year looks like its going to be a great turnout, and we’re really excited about the interest.”
A silent auction will also take place as part of the event, Hooiman said, as will a repeat crowd favorite, the Mister Relay Contest.
Elko Lion’s Club will provide a full tri-tip dinner at 5 p.m. Saturday, while a pancake breakfast the next morning is hosted by the Kiwanis Club.
All proceeds raised at the individual team’s on-site fundraisers go to Relay for Life, and while the committee has set a goal of $75,000, the event is about far more than the money.
“Yes, it’s about raising money and giving money to the American Cancer Society, but more so than anything else, it’s about providing support to the caregivers ... support to the families,” said Hooiman. “If you’ve never been to a relay before, please come. Just come walk with us. It’s about providing support for people going through hard times.”
For more information on the relay, or to get involved, contact Hooiman at 385-7998.