It takes a whole community to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

By Gwen Rollings

Mr. Rogers would sing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” when Sun City Center holds its American Cancer Society’s Mini-Relay for Life at Freedom Plaza on Thursday, April 2, because it promises to be a true community effort.

Brian Bower, Sun City Center Relay of Life chair; Connie Lesko, co-chair; and their team have left no stone unturned in providing an unforgettable time for survivors, caretakers and supporters of the fight against cancer. All residents of Sun City Center are encouraged to register a team, gather friends, family, neighbors and cancer survivors and just come out.

Lesko explained that although there is no minimum amount needed to register your team, the rewards of participation far exceed all expectations.

Lesko reinforced that helping each other through difficult times is the main reason for the Relay, saying, “All proceeds will be used to fund and conduct breakthrough research and give cancer patients and their families the resources they need, like free rides to chemo, free places to stay near hospitals and a live, 24/7 helpline for answers and support.”

Like good neighbors, the Sun City Center Relay for Life organizers took all aspects into consideration to ensure the comfort of the Sun City Center residents and friends in planning this year’s event. In the past, weather became a detrimental factor as the Florida sun and unpredictable showers made walking laps outside difficult for many.

This year, the event will be held inside at Freedom Plaza’s auditorium. The Relay for Life will begin at 10:00 a.m. with the opening ceremony, followed by the 10:15 a.m. Survivor Lap, 10:30 a.m. American Heroes Lap, 10:45 a.m. All Team Lap and 1:00 p.m. closing ceremony.

There will be ample parking at Freedom Plaza with shuttles running between the parking lot and auditorium throughout the day.

The Retired Officers’ Corporation at Freedom Plaza invites all levels of Relay sponsors throughout the SouthShore and Tampa Bay areas.

Bower said, “We also gratefully accept raffle prizes. Every dollar makes a difference, as we want to exceed our $10,000 goal. Each vendor is donating a $25 value raffle prize.”

He also invites calls to 633-0044 about donations. For more information, go to

There is a Kick-Off Relay Rally at Salty Shamrock in Apollo Beach on Thursday, March 24 from 5-7 p.m. “So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day”…and join your neighbors. Watch a JROTC Color Guard, listen to local performer and cancer survivor Thor Stevens and so much more. Won’t you be a neighbor that makes a difference by coming out to join in the fight against cancer?

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