Kick up your heels at Relay kick-off

By Jessi Stone | Jan 12, 2014
Cancer survivors walk during the survivor lap during last year's Relay for Life event for West Haywood.

Haywood County’s two Relay For Life committees will be kicking up their heels and kicking off the Relay season in the next week to encourage the community to get excited about the cause.

The world’s largest grassroots fundraising movement, Relay For Life, mobilizes communities throughout the country to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and provide participants with an opportunity to fight back against the disease.

Relay For Life of West Haywood will kick off the 2014 season at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Lake Junaluska Bethea Welcome Center. Relay For Life of Canton will hold a kick-off rally at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20 at the Colonial Theater.

Rick Bohleber, West Haywood Relay chairman, said 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of The American Cancer Society and its national theme this year is "Finishing the Fight." West Haywood has decided to complement that theme with a “Rocky” theme of “Celebrating the Courage to Fight.”

“Attending the kick-off Tuesday night is important for several reasons,” he said. “It is a motivator for teams to learn the theme and gain resources for building successful fundraising. It energizes people to be involved in a fun way.”

Bohleber said the kick-off party would set the stage for the entire community to come together for a single cause and purpose because those attending tend to get more people involved in turn. The kick-off event will feature a chili dinner as well as three speakers — an oncologist, a cancer survivor and a caregiver.

“This year's Relay is shaping up to be a memorable event of epic proportions,” he said.

Jenny Stamey, Relay for Life of Canton chairman, said this year's Ambassador of Hope speaker would be Colin Dorlan, a student at Bethel Middle School.

“Colin is no stranger to cancer. Having been inspired by his uncle Michael ‘Hub’ Scott's journey, Colin formed a team last year at his school which raised over $2,000,” Stamey said. "He is such an inspiration to me. His enthusiasm for Relay is contagious and will hopefully inspire others to get involved."

The Canton Relay for Life theme will be revealed and 2013 fundraising efforts will be recognized at the kick-off event. Canton raised about $90,000 last year to help support the Society's mission of saving lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures and fighting back.

Whether you have participated in Relay For Life before or if you have never attended a Relay and would like to learn more about our community event, you are invited to attend a kick-off rally and join the efforts.

The West Haywood Relay for Life event will begin at 6 p.m. May 9 at the Waynesville Recreation Center. The Canton event will begin at 6 p.m. May 20 at the Canton Rec Park.

The 24-hour events will honor those fighting cancer with a survivor lap and honor those we have lost to cancer with the luminaria dedication while raising money for a cure.

With only 124 more days to go until the first event, individuals, businesses, schools, churches and civic organizations are encouraged to sign up your team today and begin fundraising at

Relay For Life began in 1985 with one man who walked and ran around a track for 24 hours and raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. This year, Relay For Life will take place in nearly 5,200 communities in the United States and 20 other countries and will raise funds to support the Society’s mission of saving lives by helping people stay well, by helping people get well, by finding cures and fighting back.

The West-Haywood Relay For Life event is still in need of committee leaders and members for Team Retention, Team Recruitment, Team Recognition, Luminaria and Entertainment. Sponsorships for the event are also available.

For more information about how you can get involved, contact Randi Smith at American Cancer Society at 828-253-2893, 828-230-7757 or email

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