Havre's annual Relay for Life, set for Friday evening through Saturday morning, will provide a mix of familiar and new activities for everyone participating in the walk which helps raise awareness of and money for the fight to cure cancer.
The event will kick off at Havre High School Friday at 5 p.m. with the community barbecue, which is $5 per plate and free for cancer survivors, followed by the flag ceremony and survivor's walk around the high school track at 6 p.m. then the start of the all-night walk itself. Luminaria, candle-lit paper lanterns purchased as an honor or a memorial, will be set out and lit at 10 p.m.
Some of the new activities this year include a zumba exercise warmup at 7 p.m. and karaoke from 8 to 10 p.m ., as well as a cake walk - similar to musical chairs - and other activities throughout the night until closing ceremonies at 6 a.m.
Kyndra Moore, one of the lead organizers, said about half of the event activities are new to "jazz it up and keep people interested and coming back."
While the name, Relay for Life, emphasizes the teams of walkers, who have raised money to donate to American Cancer Society and who take turns walking the track all night long, the event is designed to bring together community and family supporters as well. It creates a festive atmosphere, despite that people are coming together because of a serious disease.
Walkers and supporters can bring campers and tents as a place to retreat for a rest, and plenty of opportunities for food will be available to nourish physically tasked bodies.
Many donors are bringing in food, or cooking it right there, including the Taco John's taco cart at midnight and Pizza Hut at 12:30 a.m ., as well as cupcakes from Henny Penny's and cake from Angie's Wildflowers for dessert, said co-organizer Reba Domire. The Friday barbecue is sponsored by Frontier Lawn and Landscaping, and the sausage, gravy and biscuit breakfast Saturday morning is donated by Fiveheads whose staff will be cooking both meals.
Each year 30 to 40 cancer survivors and those currently going through treatment come to participate, and they bring family and friends, said Moore. The hundreds of walkers have family and friends show up throughout the night to offer encouragement, too. This all adds to the festive atmosphere.
As of Monday, 113 participants were registered, said Moore, but more than that are expected to walk.
"Usually we have quite a few more people show up at the event, and we do allow you to register at the event, as well," she said, adding that "we encourage anybody and everybody to come out and walk. You can even come out and walk and not necessarily be on a team and fund raise, but you can come out and support everyone that's out there."
Teams are encouraged to raise at least $100, and people who come to walk that night, whether as individuals or teams, can donate when they register to walk, she said. Those who just come to offer moral support or join in the other activities can support the fundraising efforts by buying raffle tickets or a meal, or by sponsoring a luminary for someone who has survived, or succumbed to, cancer.
While all funds go to the national American Cancer Society, Moore said that ACS does give back to communities through programs that offer help with travel and housing while getting treatment and even a wig program for those who have lost their hair as a side effect of cancer treatment.
But the event is not just about the money, Moore added, it's about discovering the emotional journey of the cancer treatment process.
"It kind of shows them there is a support group out there," she said. "... You're rarin' to go when you first start the night and then as the night drags on, and you're awake all night, you're kind of losing that grip, but you have all those people around to rally you.
"There's people around everywhere to help you. You just have to be willing to accept that help," she said, "I encourage everyone to come out."
Havre Relay for Life
Aug. 8-9, Havre High School Track
• Community barbecue, 5 p.m ., $5 per plate, free to survivors.
• Opening Ceremonies, 6 p.m ., with flag ceremony and survivor/caregiver walk.
• Luminaria Ceremony 10 p.m.
• Food and numerous activities throughout the night.
• Breakfast, 5 a.m.
• Closing ceremonies, 6 a.m.
Everything is open to the public to participate or support. Anyone wanting to join a team or start a team can go online to RelayforLife.org, or call Reba Domire, 390-1343, or Kyndra Moore, 945-2411.