Planners of the Westerville Relay For Life want this year's event to be a true celebration.

Planners of the Westerville Relay For Life want this year's event to be a true celebration.

The 2010 theme is "Cirque du Relay" with a circus or carnival atmosphere, said event chairwoman Angeline Grant.

"It's really just a party with a purpose," Grant said. "It's a great time to get family together to do fun things and at the same time, do it all for a great reason.

The Westerville Relay For Life, scheduled for June 25-26, will start on a more serious note with the Survivors' Dinner, for those who have been diagnosed with cancer. Food for the meal has been donated by City Barbeque.

"It's not limited to somebody that's in remission," Grant said. "It's for anyone that's been diagnosed with skin cancer to any other kind of cancer - pancreatic cancer or prostate or liver."

Those caretakers who have provided emotional or physical support to someone at the dinner are welcome to attend, as well, she said.

The relay itself kicks off at 6 p.m. Children can enjoy a rented bouncy castle, play games, watch movies or get their faces painted when not walking on the track. Adults can enjoy massages.

Themed laps, such as a pajama lap, will help keep the energy high as the all-night event continues, Grant said. During the bead lap, participants can pick up beads off the track to make necklaces.

A luminaria ceremony honoring loved ones who have died, as well as those living with cancer, will be held at 10 p.m. June 25. For a $10 donation, a luminaria - a small bag with a tealight inside - can be dedicated to a friend or family member affected by cancer.

"We light the candles inside, and every single name that's been listed is read aloud," Grant said.

In the morning, relay participants will be treated to a pancake breakfast and will continue walking on the track until noon.

Relay For Life events are held all over the world annually, and Westerville's is one of the largest in central Ohio, said local Relay For Life coordinator Alex Toomey, with the American Cancer Society.

"There are 16 relays in Franklin County, and Westerville is always in the upper echelon of those," Toomey said. "It's also the third-oldest in Franklin County."

The events are 18 hours long because they are meant to help people understand how tiring and lonely struggling with cancer can be, Grant said.

"It's how alone you feel at 3 o'clock in the morning," she said.

Like many of the volunteers who coordinate local Relay For Life events, Grant has had friends and family members who have been diagnosed with cancer.

"A year ago I joined as a team captain and basically rallied together a lot of people," to raise money for the American Cancer Society through Relay For Life, Grant said. "I want to do as much as I can to raise awareness and as much as I can to make a difference."