Officials hoping to make Relay bigger

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Local American Cancer Society officials are hoping to make the world's largest Relay for Life even bigger.

Area Manager Randy Redner said the organization will hold a meeting Tuesday to answer any questions interested citizens may have about the event.

"This is a county of about 800,000, and 30,000 new people come here every year," Redner said. "Sometimes we fall into a trap thinking, 'Hey, this is the largest community event that we do ... and everybody knows about it.'"

There are currently more than 300 teams signed up to participate in the overnight walkathon, but officials hope to add more. This year's goal, Redner said, is 400.

Teams typically range from 10 to nearly 300 members and their makeup is as diverse as cancer patients themselves. There are young and old, men and women, boys and girls. They come from churches, schools, businesses and neighborhoods.

Duane Downs co-captains a team, Mixed Nuts Bowlers, that has been a part of Relay since 1994. He said that just about everyone affiliated with the team has been touched by cancer in some way and though they may not get together often (members are spread out across several counties), they never lose sight of their ultimate goal: To "strike out" cancer.

"That's really the driving force behind it, the common thought that we're doing something good in the community," he said. "I think, for the most part, it means that there is hope."

In its 16-year-history, Gwinnett's Relay has raised nearly $25 million for the fight against cancer, Redner said. But there is work to be done yet.

"If you haven't heard about Relay for Life and how it leads the battle against cancer, honors survivors and remembers those we've lost, learn how you can get involved," Redner said.

For more information on Relay for Life, visit www.gwinnettrelayforlife.

org or find the group on Facebook.