The laps they'll trek around the track may have a far greater significance than perhaps any steps they've ever walked.
That's the mindset shared by participants who will take part in this year's Relay For Life in Palmerton and surrounding areas in their continued attempts to raise money in the fight against cancer.
Held at the Palmerton Area High School stadium at 325 Fireline Road, the 24-hour event kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday and ends at 10 a.m. Sunday. There is no charge for admission.
Chris Borger, committee member, said the theme of this year's event is "Celebrating, Remembering, and Fighting Back through the Decades".
Borger said Relay is much more than a fundraiser.
"It is designed to involve the entire community in cancer education, increase awareness of the mission of the American Cancer Society and its advocacy efforts, and to learn about programs and services available to cancer patients, their caregivers and families," Borger said. "Relay For Life is intended to bring together people who have been touched by cancer in the community area to remember those lost and celebrate those that have survived and are winning the fight."
The event will include a Celebration of Survivors, a Luminaria Service to Remember those lost to cancer, and a Fight Back Ceremony.
It will get under way with an opening ceremony that will include the singing of the "Star Spangled Banner" by Angela Nardini, followed by an opening prayer by Vicky Smith.
At 1 p.m., A Parade of Teams will lead off the Fight Back ceremony led by the Double S duo of Sandy Benson and Sharon Krebs, the Relay's Advocacy co-chairs.
The Survivor's Celebration begins at 6:15 p.m., and will include music by Olde Friends, recognition of Honorary Chairs Carol Hill & Kathleen, some words from Deidre Grubb, an ACS Voice of Hope, a special Survivor Lap and a reception.
The Luminaria Remembrance Ceremony will begin at 9 p.m., and will include vocals by Nardini; readings by local children; Michel Huk will share her caregiver story and Gene Kutzler will play the Bagpipes. The ceremony will conclude with a lap around the track by Caregivers and Survivors while the track is illuminated by the Luminaria in remembrance and honor of loved ones.
As always, there will be plenty of fun and games, such as a frozen T-shirt contest, bingo, alligator wrestling, a scavenger hunt and Ring the Flamingo, as well as a midnight cake walk
The traditional Ms. Relay Contest begins at 11 p.m., as this year's contest will be emceed by Lori Ann Klement, Ms. Pennsylvania American Queen 2006.
There will also be a big Chinese Auction opening from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Auction is closed during major ceremonies.
Other entertainment will include a demonstration by Emerald Dragon Karate School, entertainment provided by local DJ's, and Haircuts by Jessica Greif, Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths, on the track.
Survivors not already registered for the event may do so from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday at no charge. Luminaria, in honor or memory of a loved one, will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to to 6 p.m. Saturday.
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 "A Million Reasons to Celebrate" to commemorate Relay for Life's 25th anniversary nationally.
That event, which had 463 Luminarias, 643 participants, and 225 survivors participate, raised $118,222, to push the grand total to over $1 million since the event formed in Palmerton in 2002.
Of that, $113,000 was raised by the event itself. After the Palmerton Fire Co. No. 1 donated proceeds from its fourth annual firefighters carnival last May, the committee was less than $5,000 shy of the $158,000 in order to reach the $1 million goal. Since then, contributions were turned in to Relay that raised the grand total to $1,000,802.
Anyone with questions may contact Borger at 610-442-6440 for further information.
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.