On Saturday, May 31, the 11th annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Martha’s Vineyard takes place at the MVRHS track. Participants will take turns walking around the track from 1 p.m. Saturday until 8:30 a.m. Sunday to celebrate cancer survivors, honor those who have lost the battle and raise awareness for cancer prevention.
Ashley Wills, local relay representative, said the all-night walk aims to call attention to the idea that “cancer never sleeps.”
Ms. Wills expects over 70 survivors to attend the relay this year. Survivors and their caregivers, if present, will walk a special lap together at 3:30 p.m. Ms. Wills described this lap as “really emotional and energizing . . . it reaffirms why you’re there.”
A luminaria ceremony will be held at 9 p.m. to commemorate those who have lost their battle with cancer. As the event nears completion on Sunday morning, participants will engage in the Fight Back Ceremony, where they reflect on what they will do to help prevent the onset of cancer in their own lives and the lives of those they love.
To keep spirits up throughout the night, Ms. Wills and the relay team have coordinated special “fun laps.” There will be a Halloween lap in which walkers are encouraged to wear a costume of their choice, as well as a duct tape-and-newspaper wedding attire competition, among other events. “Ms. Relay,” which has become somewhat of an annual tradition at the Vineyard Relay, will also take place on Saturday. In this lap-long competition, male participants dress in drag and compete — often in heels — to collect the most donations.
As of Wednesday, the event has raised $28,539, which will go toward national cancer research as well as patient care programs on the Cape and Islands.
Ms. Wills said the fundraising goal is $72,000, and she has faith that after a meeting this week and the 24-hour event this weekend, they will reach that goal.
Though the opening ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m., the event will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Anyone who would like to attend the event for a few hours may do so for free. Those planning to stay overnight must pay a registration fee of $10.