Bloomingdale and Newsome high schools are inviting community members to join them fighting cancer next month at their annual Relay For Life events.

On Friday, April 6 at 6 p.m., students and community members will join teams at High School to walk, camp overnight and participate in other activities to raise funds for the American Cancer Society (ACS), while the relay at Newsome High School, with similar events, will take place on Saturday, April 14.

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

Thirty-five teams, with between five and 25 members, are signed up to participate in the Bloomingdale event and 50 teams in the Newsome event, with participants ranging from children to 75 year olds. The fundraising goal for the Bloomingdale event is $78,000, as participants raised $77,000 last year, and the goal for the Newsome relay is $195,000, the same amount raised at the event last year when participants surpassed their goal of $175,000.

“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 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 our 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. The Bloomingdale relay will use cartoons and fairy tales to ‘Make the Fairytale of a Cure Come True,’ and Newsome attendees will have a ‘Battle of the Bands’ while raising funds.

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.

Bloomingdale’s event will take place at the school’s track, located at 1700 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, from 6 p.m. April 6 to 6 a.m. April 7. Newsome High School, located at 16550 FishHawk Blvd., is one of the few 18 hour Heritage Events and will start at 12 Noon on Saturday, April 14 and end at 6 a.m., Sunday April 15.

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.