Its location may have changed, but the mission has remained the same.
The 11th annual Relay For Life of Palmerton & Surrounding Communities will be held for the first time ever at the Lehighton Football Stadium.
This year's 24-hour event will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 2, and end at 10 a.m. Sunday, June 3. The theme of this year's Relay is "Rockin' Around the Clock for a Cure".
Because the Palmerton Area High School stadium is in the midst of construction, it was decided this year's event would be held in Lehighton, according to Caylan Chanwik, Community Income Development Specialist, American Cancer Society.
"Although the Palmerton Area School District administration was still supportive and trying to find a way that it could still work for us to hold the Relay there in spite of the construction, the Relay committee and staff had concerns about the safety and logistics of trying to do so, and felt that it would be better for all involved to find a temporary, alternate location for 2012," Chanwik said. "After visiting several possible locations in the area, committee leadership and staff felt that the Lehighton football stadium was the best choice, given the unique logistical requirements of a Relay - a track or path for people to walk, lighting, parking, ample seating, an indoor area in case of weather emergency, and a large enough area to fit everything - and approached the LASD staff and school district, who have welcomed us and been extremely accommodating."
Chanwik said the committee anticipates the change in location will bode well for the event.
"Although it was originally certainly not part of our plans for the Relay, and has taken a significant extra amount of time and planning to work out the logistical details of a new location, we are hoping that it ends up bringing some benefits to the Relay, such as the advantage of being on a busy intersection in the middle of a town," she said. "Lehighton has always been included in the area covered by the Palmerton Relay - hence the name, "Relay For Life of Palmerton and Surrounding Areas" - but it is our hope that as a result of holding the Relay in Lehighton, we can reach and involve a larger portion of the Lehighton community, and perhaps some people will attend who haven't in the past because it is closer to them this year."
Thus far, there are 32 teams and 322 participants registered for this year's event, said Chanwik, who noted the goal this year is to raise $88,000.
Last year's theme was "Cancer Loses When Everyone Plays to Win". That event raised $85,276, Chanwik said.
This year's event will start with an opening ceremony that will include the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by PAHS senior Lydia Anthony, followed by an opening prayer by Vicky Smith.
It will feature a Celebration of Survivors, a Luminaria Service to Remember those lost to cancer, and a Fight Back Ceremony.
At 1 p.m., A Parade of Teams will lead off the Fight Back ceremony led by Sandy Benson and Sharon Krebs, the Relay's Advocacy co-chairs.
The Survivor's Celebration will begin at 5 p.m., with Sue Eckhart, and Deirdre Berger, Honorary Survivor Chair. Also at that time, survivors with caregivers will take the first lap, while a survivor/caregiver reception will immediately follow.
From there, the Luminaria Remembrance Ceremony will begin at 9 p.m., with opening remarks by Tina Hill. Caregivers and survivors will lead the first lap after the ceremony, while all others who attend are to join in afterward.
The event is free and open to the public, and all survivors are welcome to attend the survivor reception and ceremony.
Teams fundraise all year long in support of the event. Palmerton's Relay for Life the only of its kind in Carbon County was one of 217 community and collegiate events that raised $21.1 million statewide in 2007.
The theme of last year's event was "Cancer Loses When Everyone Plays to Win." That event, which had 253 Luminarias, 486 participants, 144 survivors, and a total of 46 teams, raised $85,276.
Over $1 million has been raised since the event formed in Palmerton in 2002.
The first Relay For Life event was held in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., by Dr. Gordy Klatt, and is the nation's largest overnight, 24-hour, nonprofit walk event.
All proceeds benefit the Carbon-Tamaqua Unit of the American Cancer Society.
For more information, call 1.888.227.5445 ext. 3112, log onto www.relayforlife.org/papalmerton, or call (610) 442-6440.