Otterbein College will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life this year by hosting its first relay.

Otterbein College will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life this year by hosting its first relay.

The event is being organized by the Colleges Against Cancer, Otterbein Chapter. Fundraising teams will take to the track at Otterbein's Memorial Stadium on May 1, according to Colleges Against Cancer publicity chairwoman Jessica Hatfield.

"We started the initial plans for this event in the fall and we've been trying really hard to get things started up. There are a lot of hoops to jump through," Hatfield said. "Right now, I think we have about 17 teams signed up for the relay so far."

Otterbein's relay will include the 1980s-inspired theme, "Hit Cancer with Your Best Shot." Hatfield said Otterbein's radio station, 97.5 WOBN, will broadcast its spring marathon at the stadium, playing music from the 1980s throughout the Relay For Life. Other entertainment will include an inflatable obstacle course and Guitar Hero on a large projection screen.

A reception for cancer survivors will kick off the Otterbein relay at 5 p.m. in the Campus Center, 100 W. Home St., Hatfield said.

"Our catering company, Bon Apetit, will be providing cakes and cookies during the reception, and an Otterbein student who is a cancer survivor will be a guest speaker for the reception," Hatfield said. "Following that, the survivors are then welcome to come down to the stadium and take part in the first lap."

At dusk during the Relay For LIfe, a luminaria ceremony will take place to remember friends and relatives who have lost their lives to cancer.

As with most Relay For Life events, teams have been raising money for the cause well before the actual 24-hour event, Hatfield said.

As of April 19, $5,607 had been raised cumulatively by the Otterbein teams to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Since this will be the college's first Relay For Life, Hatfield said organizers are brainstorming ideas for interesting contests and prizes for the participants.

"We talked about that at a meeting last week. We're going to try to do something along those lines, possibly the best Greek team, or best-decorated tent -- we're still working on that," she said.

No cutoff date has been set for teams to register for the Otterbein Relay For Life, Hatfield added.

Westerville will also host its annual Relay For Life on June 26-27, at Westerville North High School, 950 County Line Road.

Ohio has hosted Relay For Life events since 1995, according to Bob Paschen, regional director of public relations for the American Cancer Society. Those events raised more than $16.7-million last year, and the Society has set a goal of raising $17.2-million in Ohio this year.

More than 200 communities will take part in the fundraiser across the state this year, according to Paschen.

The ACS is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing the disease, saving lives and diminishing suffering through research, education, advocacy and service, according to Hatfield.

Volunteers can find more information about the Otterbein Relay For Life and can purchase luminaries online at www.relayforlife.org/otterbeincollege.

lrice@thisweeknews.com