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Relay for Life kicks off Friday

LAWRENCEVILLE - Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society's biggest fundraiser, will kick off this Friday at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

This year participants are shooting for a fundraising goal of $2.5 million, attempting to surpass last year's $2.2 million. Gwinnett's Relay for Life has exceeded not only other Georgia Relay for Life events but has been ranked No.1 in the country both in attendees and money raised.

"I think the most special part of (Relay for Life) is the way the community embraces the fight against cancer compared to any other Relay in the country," said Randy Redner, American Cancer Society area manager.

Redner expects more than 10,000 people to attend over the weekend and has registered more than 345 teams.

"We're having the survivor's walk again this year and we're shooting for over 2,000 people - it's the largest survivor gathering in the world," Redner said. There are around 20,000 cancer survivors living in Gwinnett alone, he said.

Activities at the event include a crazy hat contest, campsite judging contest, bingo, cake walk, trivia contest and scavenger hunt. Proof of the Pudding will host a dance inside for middle school and high school kids and for the first time a 5k run will take place at 8 Saturday morning. Two events that generally make the biggest impression on attendees are the survivors walk and the luminary ceremony.

"We have 8,000 luminary bags and we will shut off the lights at 10 p.m.," Redner said. "It's a really powerful time because people get to honor those that are still surviving and the memory of those who have lost their fight."