The Relay For Life of Grove City will have a new location and earlier date this year, but the mission of the annual event remains the same.

"We're all participating in the Relay for the exact same reason," said Grove City resident Tammy Kish, a member of Team Gap.

"It doesn't matter what age, gender, religion or race you are," she said. "Cancer has no reasoning. It just attacks human beings."

The Grove City Relay For Life will be held 3 to 11 p.m. May 5 at the Eagle Pavilion at Rotary Lake in Fryer Park, 3899 Orders Road.

More than a dozen teams, as well as individuals, will participate in the relay, which takes place throughout the night.

A kickoff for the event was held March 25 at Plank's on Broadway. The event included a silent auction, raffle and music.

"Relay For Life is an event that celebrates those who have survived cancer, their caregivers and families and pays tribute to those who are no longer with us," said Kelsey Jones, community development manager with the American Cancer Society.

A special luncheon for survivors will be held 1 to 3 p.m. before the Relay.

After the opening ceremony at 3 p.m., survivors will complete the first lap.

"It's a moment of celebration that you can beat cancer," Jones said. "Everybody always claps as they make their way around the lap."

Other special laps are held throughout the event, including those for caregivers and family members to walk with survivors, Jones said.

A silent auction will be held throughout the evening and the event also will include music courtesy of a disc jockey, said Heidi Robinson, coordinator for the 2018 event.

In previous years, the event was held at Grove City High School. Fryer Park will be an inspiring location with the park setting and lake, Robinson said.

What might be the most emotional part of the event occurs as day turns into night and darkness descends, according to organizers.

"People are able to buy a luminaria bag in honor of a family member or friend who is battling cancer or in memory of someone who cancer took from them," Jones said. "We put the bags around the track and put glow sticks in them so that they light up the track. It's one moment of gravity during the event."

"It's a very moving experience," said Pat Walters, who serves as co-captain with Denise Corkwell of the Grove City Noon Lions Club team.

"The luminarias are such a wonderful way to honor those who are still battling cancer and to walk in memory of those who have passed away," she said. "It brings tears to my eyes every year."

Walters, a cancer survivor herself, said the Noon Lions Club has been participating in the event since 2001.

"This year is extra special and meaningful for us, because we have some members who have just recently been diagnosed with cancer," she said. "It's always a core project for our club, but this year even more so."

Teams hold fundraising activities throughout the year and also hold special sales during the event, Robinson said.

More than 200 are expected to participate in this year's Relay, she said.

"It's amazing to see everybody come together and to see all the survivors and caregivers walking laps together. It's such a show of strength," Robinson said. "It warms the heart to see so many people giving back to the community."

"Everyone has such a passion for this event, because just about everyone has been affected by cancer themselves or through their family and friends," Kish said.

Kish said her dedication stems from her loss of two grandmothers, her parents and two sisters from the disease.

"It's a cause we all care about," she said. "We're raising funds through the Relay in hopes that someday, no one will have to suffer from cancer and we won't have to hold a Relay. Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

More information about the Grove City Relay For Life, including how to participate or make a donation, is available at relayforlife.org/grovecity. Information is also available at facebook.com/Relay4Life GroveCity.

Last year's event raised $41,716, Jones said.

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