MENDOTA - Can you believe it? It’s almost here. Local volunteers have devoted much of their time, talents and energy over the past several months preparing for this weekend’s American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley to be held in Mendota on Saturday and Sunday, July 13-14 at the soccer fields near Lake Mendota. Fifty-nine teams with 546 registered participants have already raised over $106,000. The great thing about this fundraiser is that much of the money raised remains in LaSalle County helping and supporting area cancer patients and their caregivers.
On average, 183 Illinoisans are diagnosed with cancer every day. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer related death in Illinois, followed by colorectal cancer.
Relay For Life is an overnight event that brings the community together in the fight against cancer to celebrate the lives of those who have cancer, remember those lost to the disease, and fight back against a disease that takes too much. Teams of local businesses, schools, churches, community groups and families raise funds - prior to and at the event – to support cancer research to help find cures and to provide local programs aimed at helping people stay well, get well and fight back.
“Just like each birthday, I look forward to putting a team together each year for Relay and celebrating together,” said Nancy Jackson, RFL 2013 chairperson.
This family-friendly event is open to everyone. Whether you come for a couple of hours to take in the entertainment or stay all night, we hope the community will make plans to support the Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley and the efforts to eliminate cancer forever. Entertainment will be provided throughout the entire event with many activities including children’s games and events available before 10 p.m. on Saturday night.
This year, area cancer survivors are invited to come together for a survivors dinner at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 13. It will take place at the survivors tent with food, hope, friendship and fun. Whether diagnosed today or 10 years ago, all area cancer survivors are encouraged to join this free, pre-Relay For Life event. The meal is free but limited to registered survivors and a guest (caregiver). To sign up as a survivor and to make reservations for the dinner, go to RFLUIV on Facebook, e-mail email@example.com, or go to the website relayforlife.org/upperillinoisvalleyil. You may also call event chairpersons, Nancy at (815) 830-4179 or Jesse at (815) 228-1521.
No one need go hungry, however. A variety of food vendors will be on site serving up their specialties. It is a fun night for the entire community, not just the teams and walkers. Everyone is invited and encouraged to stop by and take advantage of the food and entertainment. To find out more details about this weekend, go online to www. relayforlife.org/upperillinoisvalleyil. And it is not too late to register as a team or individual for this event. Go to the same website and follow the directions for registering. You can also e-mail the local event chairpersons at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relay For Life of Upper Illinois Valley officially begins at 6 p.m. with local cancer survivors uniting to walk the first lap of the event. They are then joined by family, friends and co-workers, who served as caregivers and helped them through their battle with cancer. Special laps and recognition will take place during the event. Wheelchairs and transportation around the campus via golf cart will be available free of charge.
The luminaria ceremony will be held just after dark at 9:30 p.m. to honor and remember loved ones. Honorees include survivors, caregivers and those who have lost their battle against the disease. Hundreds of luminaria will line the track and continue to burn throughout the night to remind participants of the incredible importance of their loves ones’ contributions. Luminaria, for a donation of $10 each, are available by calling Lori Simonton at (815) 538-3218. They will also be available early at the event Saturday.
Relay For Life helps fund the American Cancer Society’s efforts to advance cancer prevention, treatment, patient services and cures. This includes the Society’s Patient Navigation Services program, designed to fill a critical void in heath care and social services by acting as a full-service navigator to anyone touched by cancer. The services provided by the American Cancer Society include transportation assistance to treatments; discounted lodging at hotels for patients who need to travel to receive care; insurance coverage assistance; resource matching and referrals; and cosmetic help such as free wigs or headware for patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy.
The Society also offers cancer information and access to support groups at www.IllinoisCancerHelp.org.