Leaner, meaner Relay for Life takes place this weekend

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, July 7, 2015

While its mission of helping to fund a cure for one of the world’s most persistent plagues remains the same, this year’s Dowagiac Relay for Life will feature some dramatic departures from previous renditions.

The local Relay takes place on Saturday, returning to athletic track of Dowagiac Union High School. The usual 24-hour walkathon has been scaled back this year, though, taking place from 10 a.m. Saturday until 1 a.m. on Sunday.

This year, organizers are looking to raise more than $20,000 worth of donations toward the American Cancer Society, the national volunteer heath organization dedicated to the eradication of cancer. So far, eight teams of walkers have registered for Saturday, raising more than $6,000  prior to the event, said Gary Peffley, the logistics chair for this year’s event.

“The money you raise today may save your life or the lives of your grandchildren,” Peffley said.

Last year, the Dowagiac event, which took place in May, raised a total of $30,513 in donations.

The 15 or so people in charge of organizing this year’s event are hitting the home stretch this week, as they finish preparations for Saturday, Peffley said.

“This is a busy week, where everything has to come together,” he said.

Various activities are lined up for families attending Saturday, including old favorites such as the Dowagiac Fire Department smokehouse and the nail painting and games with Miss Dowagiac and the 2015 Court of Honor. New to the festivities this year is a pie and cake auction, which takes place at 5 p.m., Peffley said.

The Dowagiac resident has helped organize the annual charity event for the last several years, as well helping to put on the Relay for Life in Niles, St. Joseph County, and other areas across the state, he said. He first became involved with Relay four years ago, after he overcame a battle with stage four cancer, where he was forced to undergo more than two years of chemotherapy and three major surgeries.

Since then, Peffley said he has developed a strong passion for the Relay for Life.

“It used to be when a doctor told you that you had cancer, it was like receiving a death warrant,” Peffley said. “That’s not the case today. There are good advances being made into the research of cancer. We just need to continue to fight.”

Saturday’s Relay is open to the public. People who want additional information or who are interested in registering their own team are encouraged to visit the relay’s webpage, at RelayforLife.org/DowagiacMI.