Relay for Life kicks off this year’s event

Published 9:32 am Saturday, March 27, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- One of the most successful Relay for Life campaigns in the country takes place right here in Niles and the group behind the cancer prevention fundraiser held its annual kick-off event this week.
The Niles-Buchanan Relay For Life combines with the Stevensville Relay For Life to make Berrien County the second largest fundraising effort per capita in the country. Last year, the Niles-Buchanan group raised over $130,000 on its own.
Relay for Life is a community gathering, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, in which teams participate to raise funds for cancer research and awareness.
The Relay for Life committee held its kick-off event on Wednesday evening in the Niles High School cafeteria. The event included information on registration, fundraising and the specifics of this year's relay, which will take place on July 24 and 25 at the Niles High School track.
In addition to cancer research and awareness, Daniels said the money raised from relay goes to such causes as transportation for those who
need to get to chemotherapy or radiation treatments, wigs for those who
can not afford them and camps for kids with cancer.
Tammy Tallis, the event's chairperson, said all 20 members of the relay committee have had their lives touched by cancer in some way.
The teams are comprised of 10 to 15 members and each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the 24 hour event.
While one team member walks the track, the other members can participate in games, contests, theme laps and enjoy entertainment.
Tallis said the event had 40 teams participate last year and will continue to set their sights higher each year by setting a goal of 50 teams for this year's event.
Each team raises money through pledges from family, friends, co-workers and other community members.
The July 24 event will include an opening ceremony with guest speakers and a special starting lap of cancer survivors.
One survivor who was present at the kick-off was Niles resident Dana Daniels.
Another component of Relay for Life is a luminaria ceremony to remember and honor loved ones who have had cancer.
You do not have to be present at the relay to purchase a luminaria and the suggested donation is $10.
The luminarias, which will be lit at sundown, will line the track with each one bearing the name of the person being honored.
For information on donations or how to participate in the relay, call Tammy Tallis at (269) 449-4471 or Michelle Asmus at (574) 273-1332.