Relay Life

Cancer survivors kick off the first lap during North Worcester County Relay for Life at Frontier Town, off Route 611 in West Ocean City in 2018. The event is a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Cover: North Worcester County Relay for Life co-chairs, from left, Dj Thompson and Dawn Hodge, are joined by Dr. Roopa Gupta and Dr. Manoj Jain from the Atlantic General Hospital John H. "Jack" Burbage Cancer Center during the 2018 event at Frontier Town, off Route 611 in West Ocean City.

On Friday organizers changed the time and location to Stephen Decatur High School from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.

(May 10, 2019) Despite revising the time and day, the North Worcester County Relay for Life annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which takes place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Frontier Town Campground off Route 611 in Berlin, still seeks to foster community spirit and heighten awareness while raising funds to support continued research and patient education.

Relay for Life organizers opted to change the previous all-night affair beginning Friday evening, to a daylong event this Saturday, said Dawn Hodge, event chair.

“During the day we’re going to have entertainment and games,” she said.

Team check-in begins at 9 a.m., with music and games, such as badminton and volleyball, starting at 11 a.m.

In addition to an array of games, youngsters can enjoy a bounce house and inflatable obstacle course.

Mother’s Day card-making activities will also be featured, as well as mother/daughter look alike contests, trivia, scavenger hunts, glow tug of war and a frozen T-shirt contest.

Daytime grooves will be provided by DJ Schwabb and Big Al Reno from 98.1FM Ocean98, with Brian K. Hall from 103.5FM the Vault covering night-shift beats.

Live performances are scheduled by the Lauren Glick Duo at 7 p.m., the String Beanz at 9:15 p.m. and the Undateables at 10:15 p.m.

Hodge said the revamped times are intended to allow attendees increased opportunities to socialize, share struggles and support survival.

“We moved the survivor reception up to 4:30 p.m. to give more time to eat and socialize,” she said.

As in past years, fundraising teams will have dedicated campsites seeking to source financial backing.

The Relay for Life event has a fundraising goal of $100,000 this year, with more than $63,000 raised as of Tuesday.

Hodge said in 2018 the event raised roughly $150,000 with 100 survivors attending and nearly 175 participants registered.

The Luminaria Ceremony of Remembrance will begin at 7:30 p.m., which Hodge said serves a three-fold purpose: honoring souls lost to cancer, aiding those suffering presently and triumphing those who have overcome cancers.

After 13 years of helping organize the Relay for Life event in Worcester County, Hodge attributes continued involvement, besides the obvious sentiment to cure all forms of cancer, to the continuing advances made by medical researchers.

“I think what keeps me going is just the leaps and bounds that have happened in the last few years,” she said.

The annual gathering also lends itself to reflection, Hodge said.

“Life is so busy sometimes you don’t take time to think,” she said. “Every year at Relay [for Life] I get a chance to walk around the track and think about how many lives have been saved through the years.”

Hodge said while walking she typically ponders community members lost to cancer, such as Kathy Mathias and Sheryl Mitrecic in previous years, and this past December, Joan Littleton.

“She was a huge part of our committee for years,” she said. “We’ve lost her since the last Relay.”

For the uninitiated, the event, albeit emotionally charged, tends to leave a lasting and uplifting impression, Hodge said.

“If you haven’t come to Relay, once you come you’ll be hooked,” she said. “Everybody comes together in support of each other.”

Hodge said in addition to survivors celebrating continued life along with supporting caregivers, the annual event draws people who have lost a loved one to cancer, as well as those recently diagnosed.

“Some people won’t even say they’re a survivor until they’ve been cleared [of cancer] for five years,” she said. “But, really you’re a survivor from day one of being diagnosed because you’re surviving and battling.”

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