The Johnstown Relay for Life committee will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, in the village administration offices at 599 S. Main St. to continue planning its June 24 overnight walkathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

The Johnstown Relay for Life committee will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 3, in the village administration offices at 599 S. Main St. to continue planning its June 24 overnight walkathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

This will be the fourth year for the event in Johnstown, which has exceeded its fundraising goal every year and has set a target of $47,000 for 2011.

"Our first year our goal was $30,000," said committees chair Mary Wiswell. "But since we hit goal each year, they raise the goal. We ended up at $47,000 for this year, which I can tell you is not going to be easy. But that's what we shoot for, and it's all volunteers.

"Last year was the first year we hit goal at the event itself, so we could announce it at closing ceremonies," Wiswell said. "The previous years we hit our goal in August, after the event."

The committee is especially focusing on students this year, and so far the largest team that has registered for the Relay is made up of about 14 students, Wiswell said.

"One of our big pushes is to try to reach out into the schools," she said. "We want to be a kind of presence in the schools.

"You go to this event at 3 o'clock in the morning and there are kids running around throwing footballs and kicking soccer balls. They love it," Wiswell said. "We are starting to form a reputation, it's the last weekend in June, so people can plan their vacations but still know when Relay is."

Thursday the committee will discuss what it can do to encourage teams to register now. Wiswell said registering is the act that starts participants thinking about the event and planning their activity, which is crucial to successful fundraising.

"The bulk of our fundraising needs to happen prior to the event," Wiswell said. "The website gives teams and participants a lot of tools to fundraise, so if they get registered they can start using the web site to reach out and fundraise and plan. Once they get registered, people will follow that lead. It gets the ball rolling."

The registration site can be reached at www.relayforlife.org/Johnstown.

In past years, most of the participating teams have been small-town oriented, with a family and church focus.

"We tend to have more family and church type teams than business and civic teams," Wiswell said. "I think that goes with Johnstown being a small town that is so family oriented. We do recruit businesses and civic organizations, but what we've seen in the past three years has been more centered around families."

Even so, more organization teams are participating, including this year PNC Bank, which is expecting to bring employees from Pataskala and Johnstown.

"I like to see that, because people see that their local bank or their local therapists office down the street and they become more aware of it," Wiswell said.

The theme for the Relay this year is "Peace, Love & a Cure," and will include 1970s nostalgia, such as tie dye. So far, 17 teams have registered toward a goal of 45 teams.

The Thursday meeting is open to the public and volunteers are encouraged to attend.