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American Cancer Society hosts annual Relay for Life fundraiser

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In this file photo, folks participate in the Purple Hand Dance at Relay for Life.

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A file photo from the 2011 Gwinnett Relay for Life.

If you go

• What: Gwinnett County’s Relay for Life

• When: 7 p.m. Friday to 6:30 a.m. Saturday

• Where: Gwinnett County Fairgrounds, 2405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Lawrenceville

• Cost: Free

• For more information: Visit www.relayforlife....

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Today, between 12,000 and 15,000 people are expected to attend Gwinnett County's Relay for Life event, the world's largest, at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.

For those who have never been to the event, it is not a marathon, a race or even a track meet. It's an all-night walking event celebrating, honoring and remembering those who have been affected by cancer, plus a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

"For those who have personally been diagnosed with cancer or for those who have had a loved one that has battled and survived, or battled and lost, Relay For Life is so much more than just a fundraising event," said Linda Cerjan, ACS senior income manager. "It's an experience that forever changes you. It is a celebration of survivorship, a special time to remember loved ones lost and an incredible time when the community comes together as one to fight back against this devastating disease."

With hundreds of teams and tents present at the fairgrounds, there is plenty for attendees to do. There will be people selling food and drinks throughout the night, face painting, crazy hair designs, silent auctions, silly contests and more -- all in the name of raising money for the cause.

The ACS has also organized a few activities to keep the crowd awake through the night, including a digital scavenger hunt, Miss Relay Pageant -- for males only, a conga lap and Minute to Win It competition.

But not everything has been scheduled for goofy giggles. There are laps celebrating survivors and children, and a silent luminaria ceremony.

"As survivors take the first lap wearing their purple shirt, awareness is created to how many people are diagnosed -- it is staggering and the number always seems to be more than one could imagine -- however, those in attendance who serve as the face of cancer at the event are less than one percent of the 25,000 survivors in our community," Cerjan said. "As survivors and their caregivers take that first lap, everyone else lines both sides of the track giving the survivors a standing ovation for their victory over cancer."

The event lasts until 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Parking fills up quickly, but there are two locations for shuttle buses for additional parking. One is in front of the Gwinnett County Government building located at 455 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville and another at Lawrenceville Church of God located at 329 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville.