By Michelle Colesanti

Each year over 4 million people around the world take part to raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer through the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Locally, Bloomingdale and Newsome Senior High Schools will host a Relay for Life event in upcoming weeks.

Bloomingdale, located at 1700 Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, will host its Relay For Life of Bloomingdale event on the track at the school beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, April 22 and will run through 6 a.m. on Saturday, April 23. So far, over 20 teams have signed up to participate.

The theme for the Bloomingdale Relay this year is Around the World for a Cure, where each team selects a country for their campsite. Teams will sell food and fare from featured countries with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society. 

The event lead this year is Kelley Kilpatrick, who has been involved with Relay since 2002. She started participating at the Relay in Bloomingdale and continued her participation in the Relay For Life of Florida State University during college. After graduation, she served as the event lead at Bloomingdale in 2015 and again this year. Kilpatrick is a registered nurse at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in the pediatric oncology unit.

“I am really excited for the 2016 event and looking forward to making it better than ever before,” she said. “Our goal at Relay is to provide a fun and entertaining overnight event for the community while raising crucial dollars and making memories. For me, it is personal and a passion of mine to find a cure for cancer because I see kids fighting and battling the illness every day.”

Relay For Life of FishHawk takes place at Newsome High School, located at 16550 FishHawk Blvd. in Lithia, from 12 Noon on Saturday, April 9 through Sunday, April 10 at 6 a.m.

The theme this year is Time is Precious… Let’s make cancer a thing of the past. All the teams have chosen periods of time for their campsite themes. Everything from the Jurassic period to the social age was chosen by the participating teams. According to this year’s Event Chair Rachael Andrews, “We even have the FishHawk Mermaid heading up a team this year and are working to find a way to have her swim at the event.”

The FishHawk Relay has already raised close to $65,000 and hopes to reach its goal of $173,501. More team participation is welcome at both Relays. Visit www.relayforlife.org.