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Relay for Life kickoff set for Thursday

LAWRENCEVILLE - Cheerleaders, a marching band and fast steppers will get the party started Thursday at the annual Relay for Life kickoff event.

Hosted by the American Cancer Society of Gwinnett County, the kickoff party, held at Berkmar High School, will highlight the top 50 local teams and three national teams who have successfully raised money to fight cancer. They will offer new teams tips on how to be winners, too.

"This event is for someone who wants to have a team but doesn't know how," said Cynthie Annie, spokeswoman for the American Cancer Society of Gwinnett County. Survivors of all types of cancer, those who are still fighting and their caretakers are especially invited to attend, she said.

The Gwinnett County Relay for Life has been the No. 1 team in the world both in attendees and money raised for several years running. Last year's total hit $2.2 million, and this year's goal is $2.25 million. This year's Relay is scheduled for May 12 and 13 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

Nationally, there are 2,500 relay events held throughout the year, attracting almost 1.5 million participants. Relay for Life is the largest annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and is attended by one out of every 100 Americans. Relays are held in parking lots, fairgrounds, fields and tracks at 4,500 sites around the world.