Survivors, walkers ready for Relay for Life kickoff

LAWRENCEVILLE - Although it has been 13 years since Gail Williams was diagnosed with breast cancer, she jumps at the chance to celebrate her triumph over the disease and encourage others, raising awareness by participating in American Cancer Society events in Gwinnett County.

A resident of Snellville and the second half of the "O'Neill Outside" radio show on WSB-AM, Williams and her husband, O'Neill, not only educate listeners about turkey season and fishing, but she often talks about cancer awareness and most recently, the Relay for Life.

Williams said she plans to attend this year's Relay kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Discover Mills in the food court. The event is a precursor to the 24-hour walk, camp-out and fundraiser that will take place at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds in May. All community members and cancer survivors are invited to attend both events.

"The more you talk about (cancer) the more people listen," she said. "When you have cancer you have to see that someone else has been there and has survived - that's the most comforting thing."

Williams will tell community members and fellow survivors about her battle with breast cancer and all are invited to sign up for the Relay, participate in a celebratory walk around the mall and learn more about the American Cancer Society.

"This is so important because of the money the Cancer Society raises for research and funding for the doctors and scientists that are looking for a cure," she said. "This affects all of us."

Kim Durham, American Cancer Society volunteer and Relay organizer, said people will have the chance Saturday to sign up for the May event and join a Relay team.

A $10 registration fee is requested from participants at sign up and each team member is urged to raise at least $100 to help support cancer research. Survivors participate free, and potential relayers can also sign up and donate online at www.gwinnettrelayforlife.com. The Relay event will start

May 25.

Those who can't participate may donate online or send donations to the Gwinnett office at 6500 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 260, Duluth, GA 30097. Those seeking more information can also call 770-814-0123.

"Gwinnett County has the largest Relay in the world. Last year we raised more than

$2.4 million and hope to raise $2.5 million this year or more," said Durham.

Those at the society expect nearly 2,000 cancer survivors plus community members to attend the event at Discover Mills.

Durham said she expects about 10,000 to 15,000 participants at the event in May. She said there is almost 1,400 participants already registered for the event.

"We love Relay but we hope one day we won't have to do this," she said. "This event is to help find a cure."

Cancer study

People attending the kickoff will also have the chance learn about the Cancer Prevention Study that will help the American Cancer Society find ways to prevent cancer.

The group is looking to recruit 500,000 adults in the United States between the ages of 30 and 65 for the new research study to begin in May.

The study will help the Cancer Society better understand the lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that prevent or cause cancer.

Those interested will have the opportunity to sign up for the study at the relay in May.

All participants must have no personal history of cancer and are willing to make a long-term commitment to the study which involves completing a questionnaire every few months.

The study's participants are also required to sign a consent form, complete a written survey, provide waist measurements and give a small blood sample that will be drawn by a trained, certified phlebotomist. All personal information will be kept confidential.

For more information, visit www.cancer.org/cps3 or call