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

On Saturday, March 30, students and community members will join teams at Newsome 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 Bloomingdale High School, with similar events, will take place on Friday, April 26.

“Relay For Life is crucial to the mission of ACS because the funds raised through our events help to support the programs, services and research efforts that we provide in our communities,” said Alexandra Klomparens, Senior Event Support Manager. “Without the incredible support we receive through Relay For Life, not only financially but in overall support and dedication from our volunteers, we would not have been able to make the impact we have in the fight against cancer.”

Forty-seven teams, with varying numbers of members, are signed up to participate in the Newsome event, and currently 28 teams are slated to attend at Bloomingdale. Team members range from children to 75-year-olds.

The fundraising goal for the Bloomingdale event is $70,000 and the goal for the Newsome relay is $140,000.

“I think that Relay For Life see such great participation because, sadly, nearly everyone is impacted by cancer,” said Klomparens. “Whether they are a survivor, caregiver or know someone who has been diagnosed, cancer touches almost everyone in some capacity.”

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 choose from to keep busy and raise important funds.

“With Relay For Life offering so many opportunities and levels of involvement to the community, I think people are drawn to wanting to participate in the event,” said Klomparens. “Whether it is by starting a team, becoming a sponsor, volunteering to help with the planning and organizing, attending as a survivor or caregiver or just coming out to walk some laps and support the day of activities, there is truly a way for everyone in the community to get involved.”

Each event has a theme which participants use for costumes, fundraising games and items, decorations for their campsites and themed laps during the event. The Newsome event’s theme is Cure Around the USA with teams each representing one of the states, and Bloomingdale will feature national holidays as its theme.

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.

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.

“I relay because, like so many others, my life has been impacted by a relative’s cancer diagnosis,” said Betsy Massey, Bevis Elementary’s Relay For Life team cochair. “I also had the amazing privilege of being an oncology nurse for 10 years. Relay For Life raises important funds for cancer research while also providing support for those with a cancer diagnosis.”

Bloomingdale’s event will take place at the school’s track, located at 1700 E. Bloomingdale Ave. in Valrico, from Friday, April 26 at 6 p.m. through Saturday, April 27 at 6 a.m. 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, March 30 and end at 6 a.m., Sunday, March 31.

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 Klomparens at 616-551-4038 or visit the school’s Relay For Life websites at www.RelayForLife.or/fishhawkfl and www.RelayForLife.org/Bloomingdalefl.