Riverview and Lennard high schools are inviting community members to join them fighting cancer this month at their annual Relay For Life events.

On Friday, April 20 at 6 p.m., students and community members will join teams at Earl Lennard High School to walk, camp overnight and participate in other activities to raise funds for the American Cancer Society (A.C.S.), while the relay at Riverview High School, with similar events, will take place on Saturday, April 21.

“Relay For Life is A.C.S.’s largest fundraising movement,” said Samantha Schneider, A.C.S. Community Development Manager.

Thirty-five teams, with between five and 25 members, are signed up to participate in the Lennard event and 50 teams in the Riverview event, with participants ranging from children to 75 year olds. The fundraising goal for the Lennard relay is $65,000, as participants raised $63,000 last year, and the goal for the Riverview event, where relayers raised $115,000 last year, is $100,000.

“Relay For Life provides an outlet for individuals touched by cancer to feel that they are not alone, whether the disease has affected them or a loved one,” said Schneider. “It really encompasses the community and provides a tangible way to make a difference while having fun.”

The events are not traditional relays, although teams are asked to have one participant walking the track at all times, even through the night. When not walking, there are many events for participants to chose from to keep busy and raise important funds.

“The fact that participants walk throughout the night makes us a unique event that resembles the fact that cancer never sleeps and neither do we at out 12, 15 or 18 hour events,” said Schneider.

Each event has a theme which participants use for costumes, fundraising games and items, decorations for their camp sites and themed laps during the event. Both the Riverview and SouthShore relays are using Disney’s Wish Upon a Cure as their theme this year.

“All of the events will have a Survivor Lap and a Caregiver Lap which allows these individuals a chance to be recognized and celebrated,” said Schneider, who added that a complimentary lunch or dinner is provided for cancer survivors and their families at the events.

One highlight of the event is the Luminaria Ceremony that typically starts at 9 p.m. and showcases luminaria bags lit in memory or in honor of loved ones.

“It is a very moving ceremony where we turn the stadium lights off and hold a silent lap,” said Schneider. “The luminary bags can be purchased online or the day of the event for a donation.”

Each event will also have a variety of food sold by the teams, including Chick-fil-A, walking tacos, baked goods, chili and breakfast foods. The teams also host games, raffle baskets, silent auctions and obstacle courses.

All money raised at the event goes to ACS’s mission to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.

The SouthShore event will take place Earl Lennard High School, located at 2341 Shell Point Rd. in Ruskin, from 3 p.m. Friday, April 20 until 6 a.m., April 21. Riverview’s event will take place on the school’s track, located at 11311 Boyette Rd., from 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 until 6 a.m. the next morning.

Residents are encouraged to sign up to participate in either event at www.relayforlife.org, but the community is also encouraged to come out to support the fundraisers at the events, even if they are not part of a team.

For more information, contact Schneider at 319-5920.