Local residents can walk or run in hopes of putting cancer in the past and bringing a "Cure to the Future," the theme of the 2009 Relay For Life in Johnstown.

Local residents can walk or run in hopes of putting cancer in the past and bringing a "Cure to the Future," the theme of the 2009 Relay For Life in Johnstown.

Event chairperson Mary Wiswell said the theme of Johnstown's second annual American Cancer Society (ACS) fundraiser is a take on the 1980s movie, "Back to the Future."

Relay is the ACS's national signature activity, bringing together teams of families and friends from local companies, schools and organizations to take pledges and walk around a track in relay fashion. Proceeds are used for cancer research, education, prevention and patient services.

In addition, the event provides a venue for the promotion and delivery of cancer control activities, including advocacy, prevention and early detection education.

The Johnstown Relay For Life committee will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 5, at the Johnstown Village Council chambers, followed by a team captain meeting at 7 p.m.

Relay committee members will also be attending upcoming Johnstown events to provide information about June's Relay.

Wiswell said representatives hope to attend the March 7 pancake breakfast at Searfoss Elementary, and they will definitely be involved in the Johnstown Youth Athletic Association's opening day at Belt Park on May 2.

"We're really going to push on Friday, May 1, to paint the town purple," Wiswell said. "We'll put up purple ribbons. Last year, that really sparked interest and got people asking questions. It reminded people about relay. We hope to have the whole town wear purple that day. Hopefully, we'll get the high school kids involved with that too."

Instead of a 24-hour relay, Johnstown's Relay For Life will be 18 hours this year.

It will kick off with the opening ceremony at 7 p.m. Friday, June 26, at the Johnstown-Monroe High School track and continue to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 27.

There are three months until Johnstown's Relay and 12 teams with 28 participants have registered so far. Online pledges total about $400.

"We'd like to encourage civic groups, churches, local businesses, schools, friends and families to create teams and come relay this year," Wiswell said. "Last year we had 27 teams register and this year our goal is to have 32 teams."

This year's fundraising goal is $35,000, while Johnstown's inaugural relay raised $32,000.

Wiswell said the Johnstown Relay For Life web site -- relayforlife.org/Johnstown -- has a few new features.

"One of those features is 'meet the committee,' naming the committee members and their roles," she said. "It gives their bios and why they relay. There's also a Team Spotlight feature. As we get going, we'll have team spotlights."

Funds are needed now more than ever, according to the American Cancer Society, as families lose health insurance benefits due to lay-offs or company closings.

"Our friends, families and neighbors will put off having symptoms checked out due to financial concerns or lack of health insurance," said Kelly Best, volunteer advocacy chair. "The American Cancer Society is predicting alarmingly high diagnoses of cancer in late stages with our current economy."

For more information about the ACS or about cancer, call toll-free anytime 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit the ACS Web site at www.cancer.org.

Teams can register on-line at relayforlife.org/Johnstown or by calling Wiswell at (740) 967-3323.