Although fundraising is an important component of Relay For Life of Grove City, it's only part of the event's mission.

"I like to say the easy way to remember what Relay For Life is all about is to think of your EARS," said Pat Walters, who has been participating in the event since its inception in 2001.

EARS stands for Education, Advocacy, Research and Service, said Walters, who is co-captain with Denise Corkwell of the Grove City Noon Lions' Relay For Life team.

Relay For Life celebrates those who have survived cancer and remembers those who have died, said Heidi Robinson, coordinator for the 2017 event.

Relay For Life will be held from 3 p.m. to midnight Saturday, June 24, at Grove City High School, 4665 Hoover Road.

The centerpiece of the event is the "relay" that goes on throughout the night, Robinson said.

"We're expecting to have 15 teams participating this year. At all times, at least one member of each team will be walking the track," she said.

The event is not a race, but a battle against cancer, Robinson said.

"Teams hold fundraising activities throughout the year, and they will be holding special activities or sales to raise funds at the tents they'll set up at the Relay," she said.

Robinson's team -- Hairdressers for a Cure -- will have a bounce house and face painting at the Relay.

The Noon Lions Club does most of its fundraising in advance of the Relay, with events including a card party at the Evans Center and an auction at one of its regular meetings, Walters said.

The Relay For Life will get underway with a special luncheon for survivors from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Church of the Nazarene, Robinson said.

After an opening ceremony at 3 p.m. at the track, the relay begins.

"We'll have special laps, including a survivor lap and a lap for caregivers," Robinson said. "Anyone who has cared for a loved one with cancer knows the heavy toll it takes. This lap honors them."

While those laps have special meaning, other laps are "silly and fun," she said.

"We have the Miss Relay, where men take a lap around the track dressed in women's clothing," Robinson said.

Perhaps the most moving part of the event is the luminaria ceremony, she said.

"People can buy a luminaria bag in honor of a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with cancer or someone who has passed," Robinson said. "After it gets dark, the luminarias are lit and we take a moment to honor and reflect."

A silent auction will be held throughout the evening, with gift baskets, Cincinnati Reds tickets, and Southwest and Jet Blue airline tickets among the bid items, she said.

Anyone from the community is invited to attend or participate in the Relay for Life, Walters said.

"We want as many people as possible to come to show their support, to participate and hopefully to contribute some money," she said.

"The great thing about the Relay For Life is that you know the money is going to a great organization, the American Cancer Society, that does so much to support cancer survivors and their families and to support research," Robinson said.

Walters is a cancer survivor herself, having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.

"I got involved with Relay For Life in 2001, and it got me to thinking that perhaps I should have myself checked out," she said. "I had never had a mammogram. It turned out I had cancer, and I was able to get treatment and survive. I'm still here 15 years later.

"I always tell our team members to get out there and start their fundraising early," Walters said. "But it's also important to get yourself screened. If you have cancer, the earlier it's caught, the better chance you have to survive."

For more information about the Relay For Life, visit facebook.com/Relay4LifeGroveCity or relayforlife.org/ grovecity.

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