COVINGTON -- Because cancer doesn't take a break, neither do the many volunteers in Newton County who are spending their time and energy raising money to help find a cure.
"In Newton County, we relay all year round," said Christy Lyons, chair of the local Relay for Life.
But the actual Relay for Life event takes place just once a year, and this year the date is set for Friday and Saturday at The Church at Covington, located at 11975 Ga. Highway 142 in Oxford.
This year, 64 teams will walk around the track all night long to raise awareness of cancer and the funds to fight it. Lyons said the goal is to raise $250,000. About $115,000 has already been turned in, she said.
"This county takes it seriously," she said.
Some of the money raised stays in the local community to help cancer patients, funding everything from gas cards to help finance trips to treatment centers to programs at the local hospital to help women adjust to the changes their bodies go through during chemotherapy, Lyons said. Money also goes to fund research. It was partially through the efforts of Relay for Life that the drug Tamoxifen was developed to treat breast cancer.
Lyons knows first hand the devastation that cancer can bring to a family -- her father and father-in-law both died of cancer and her mother-in-law is currently battling the disease. She's been volunteering with Relay for about 10 years.
"It brings everybody together in a positive spirit. Cancer has such a negative connotation. When you say it, it puts chills down your spine," Lyons said. "When you come to the Relay event, it's such a positive, uplifting high and it really shows people, OK, we can go through this treatment again, we can do this again. It's an uplifting night. Many tears are shed, but there is laughter throughout the entire night."
Lyons said many in the community don't realize the event is open to anyone and proceeds from food and any other items sold will benefit the American Cancer Society. She encouraged even those without a team to come out and have supper and enjoy the entertainment.
The event will kick off at 6 p.m. with registration and a hospitality area for survivors. The opening ceremony will take place at 7 p.m., followed by the cancer survivors victory lap at 7:15 p.m. and a luminaria ceremony at 9:30 p.m. to honor or remember a loved one.
There will be inflatables and pony rides and other kid-friendly activities throughout the evening, plenty of food for sale and musical entertainment.
For more information or to make an online donation, visit www.relayforlife.org/newtonga.