DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — It takes a community to fight cancer. And, for 2013, Highland Lakes residents are coming together to support cancer patients and survivors.
“Last year, Burnet and Marble Falls held their Relay for Life together for the first time,” local organizer Tana Aiken saod. “This year, Kingsland and Llano are joining us as well.”
The annual Relay for Life is April 12-13 at Burnet High School’s Bulldog Stadium, 1000 The Green Mile. The event raises money for the American Cancer Society, though most of the funds stay in the local community.
Aiken, an oncology nurse, said she sees the importance of the local input of funds in programs such as Reach to Recovery and Look Good, Feel Better. While sponsored and supported by the American Cancer Society, programs such as those two touch the lives of local people battling cancer.
“Look Good, Feel Better does an incredible job helping women who have cancer feel so good about themselves,” Aiken said. “And, to know the money we raise during Relay stays in the local community, it really makes you feel good knowing you’re impacting somebody’s life who lives right here.”
The local Relay committee began working on the 2013 event in January. Aiken said support has been strong and several teams already have registered, but there’s always room for more.
Relay for Life is in many ways a celebration. Though cancer is a dreaded condition, Relay participants spend the the first evening and night playing games, enjoying music and showing their love and support for those battling the disease.
The Relay starts off with the Survivors’ Lap during which the teams cheer on cancer patients and survivors on the first lap of the night. Then, the teams take one lap together before the actual relay begins.
During the overnight event, each team keeps at least one person walking on the track. This symbolizes that cancer never sleeps or rests, but neither does the fight against it.
Teams raise money before the Relay but also hold activities during the night to bring in more donations.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Aiken said. “If you’ve never been to it, I would encourage you to at least come out and see what it’s all about. I think it will make an impact.”
While the bulk of the event maintains a festive mood, the Luminary Ceremony honors those who have lost the battle with cancer. As the stadium lights go down, the candlelit luminaries glow and illuminate the name of the person scribed on the bag. The light guides walkers around the track as they reflect on each name.
Maybe someday there will be no need for events such as Relay, Aiken said, but, for now, it’s a wonderful way for the community to help their friends, family members and neighbors with cancer.
Along with Relay, organizers are planning for the annual Survivors’ Dinner on April 15 at Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista in Marble Falls. Paul Brady of River City Grille is catering the event.
“We are hoping to get as many survivors as we can for the dinner,” Aiken said. Survivors are asked to RSVP for the dinner by April 10.
While planning for the dinner and Relay are under way, Aiken said there are plenty of opportunities for more people to get involved. Anybody interested in registering a team, volunteering, learning more or reserving a spot for the Survivors’ Dinner can contact Aiken at email@example.com or (830) 285-0061.