Organizers of the 2018 Orangeburg County Relay for Life are preparing to mark their 20th year of success in the fight against cancer.
The American Cancer Society's signature fundraising event will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 27, at the Orangeburg County Fairgrounds. The theme for the 2018 event will be “Better Together in Red, White and Blue.”
“Cancer touches everyone in some fashion. People are more willing to step out and support the cause because they’ve been touched by cancer. We feel very blessed that the community supports us like they do,” said Delle Bolen, an Orangeburg County Relay for Life Committee co-chair.
“Many events around here just kind fizzle out, but this one has just sort of taken on a life of its own. I think it’s because people are so passionate about it and it touches the heart,” she said.
Bolen was among those who gathered at Orangeburg Lutheran Church on Nov. 14 to kick off the annual event.
Opening ceremonies will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by a survivors’ lap at 7 p.m.
Changes first made in 2013 for safety reasons will remain in place this year, including the wearing of armbands.
Previously, there was only one way to enter and exit the fairgrounds and every attendee was required to wear an armband. This year, however, adults will not be required to wear armbands.
“Those 15 and under will need an armband, and they must be accompanied by an adult 25 or older that will stay with them throughout the entire event. There will be no armbands for anyone else,” Bolen said.
The gates will be locked at 9 p.m.
Last year’s Relay for Life raised more than $140,000. Community members are invited to form a team to participate in the 2018 event or become a sponsor. Churches, corporations and civic organizations are among those invited to create teams. Teams must register online at relayforlife.org/orangeburgsc.
In touting this year’s theme, Bolen said Orangeburg and Bamberg counties are only as strong as they are together to make next year’s event a success.
“Everyone of us has a God-given talent,” she said, that when combined help to make Relay as strong as it has been over the past two decades.
“We are better together. We have such an opportunity to show what we can do” when we work together, Bolen said.
Cancer survivor Alice Houser said she will be participating in the event so that she never forgets those who have lost their battle with cancer, along with survivors who are fighting to find a cure for the disease.
"I relay to give hope to others so they won't forget that we'll never stop praying and fighting for them. God made me a survivor, and I never want to forget that each day is a gift I need to share with others," Houser said.
American Cancer Society community manager Marnie Walls said she has been amazed at how the local community unites to support the event.
“Orangeburg goes above and beyond the call of duty. One person can’t do it all, but together we can overcome anything,” she said.
During the Relay for Life, a luminary service will be held at 10 p.m. to remember those who have died of cancer and to honor cancer survivors. A fireworks show will follow.
For more information about the luminaries, call Mollie Etheridge at 803-664-1071 or Jenny Vargo at 803-707-2254.
Bolen, Miller Barker, Laura Fogle and Tillie Hunt are the co-chairs of the 2018 Orangeburg County Relay for Life Committee.
For more information on joining a team, becoming a sponsor or any other component of the 2016 Orangeburg County Relay for Life, contact Barker at 803-707-1026 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Fogle at 803-395-2471 or email@example.com; Bolen at 803-536-1944; or Hunt at 803-682-5949 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Individuals can also register for Relay for Life online at relayforlife.org/orangeburgsc.