Relay For Life in The Woodlands to return for day of celebration
The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event in The Woodlands has been a staple in the community for at least the past decade, but organizers are embarking on new territory this year as they’ve chosen a different location for the relay.
This year’s event is scheduled for April 13, beginning at 2 p.m., and will be hosted in front of the new Marriott Spring City Place along Lake Plaza Drive, said Rebecca Winburn, the society’s senior manager of community development.
“We’re very excited to still be having our event in The Woodlands, because the community comes out every year and supports the event. We hope to have more people in our new location,” Winburn said.
Organizers used to host the event at The Woodlands College Park High School, but had to move locations because there are already so many activities hosted there. Usually, between 300 and 500 people attend the relay.
The first lap of the relay is always taken by cancer survivors and then one lap is done for cancer patient caregivers. During the laps that follow, teams of walkers take part in games, entertainment and theme laps.
The mood at the event, Winburn said, is one of celebration and excitement. Once it gets dark outside, there’s a special luminaria event that’s more reflective.
“It’s a ceremony where we light bags in memory of loved ones we’ve lost and in honor of cancer patient survivors. It’s a time of remembrance,” Winburn said.
Of course, the hallmark of the event are the funds raised for the society’s cancer programs and research. Winburn said the event is a way for the community to get involved and give back to help save lives. This year’s fundraising goal is $80,000.
“The money that’s raised goes toward (the American Cancer Society), and those monies help patients and loved ones in The Woodlands. It supports patient programs and funds our mission, and also supports cancer research,” Winburn said.
This is the fifth year that Waste Connections, a company headquartered in The Woodlands, has been the presenting sponsor of the relay.
Sue Netherton, the company’s vice president of people, training and development, said most people don’t recognize that there are lots of activities going on throughout the day. She’s on the committee that schedules the “fun” of the day. From Netherton’s company standpoint, the relay event serves a few purposes.
“We want our employees to understand how to prevent cancer. We find that (the relay) is a good fit for how we want to keep our employees healthy and to honor employees we’ve lost through cancer,” Netherton said.
It’s also personal for her: she had a team member who died from ovarian cancer.
“The first year we got involved, we were looking for a way to honor her memory, give back and raise money. That’s how we got introduced to Relay For Life,” Netherton said.
Overall, Netherton said the event is special for anyone touched by cancer and not sure how to help.
“It’s not a race, it’s not a relay in terms of who’s going to win, it’s a relay in terms of how we’re honoring cancer survivors and those battling cancer by staying on the path for the entire time of the event,” Netherton said.