Last year, Mother Nature did not cooperate, and Relay for Life in Cape Coral was rained out. Despite that, it was still one of the largest fund-raising events in the state for the American Cancer Society.
"There is a lot of excitement this year," said Moe Taylor of the American Cancer Society. "Last year about three hours into the Cape Relay it got stormed out, so we had to call the event. Despite that, it was the 20th largest fund raiser in the state of Florida in dollars. The rankings are based on monies raised, with 366 (Relays) in the state, and the Cape still came in 20th."
Taylor said that came about because a lot of teams raised money throughout the year.
"For example, there is a team called Mardi Bras and Boxers and they have actually for the past several years have held a gala in Cape Coral to fund raise for Relay. Teams come up with so many unique and creative ways to fund raise throughout the year."
The goal this year is $170,000, Taylor said.
"Most of the teams fund raise on site as well."
Who: American Cancer Society
What: Cape Coral Relay For Life
When: Sat. April 28, 3 p.m. to Sun. April 29, 9 a.m.
Where: Mariner High School, 701 Chiquita Blvd.
The theme this year is Disney/Pixar, with teams using everything from Toy Story to Micky Mouse as their own themes.
There are 45 teams participating in the event this year.
"These are teams of everyone from students, to families, churches and local businesses. With such a large area to pull from, in such a community-based city, we believe it will continue the momentum from last year and make it even larger."
At Relays, participants walk a track as a team, with someone continuously walking for 18 hours in honor of cancer survivors and to further the cause of cancer prevention. There is food, music, drawings and more. Residents are encouraged to come out and support the event.
"It's free, family friendly, and you don't have to register ahead of time. That's a question we get a lot. We want everyone to come out, because it really is a community-wide event benefitting those in the local community, because the money raised at the Relay will support those with cancer in Cape Coral."
Relay starts with a Survivors Lap, where survivors circle the track together, to celebrate the their victory over cancer.
"Premiere Oncology is our Lee County Luminaria Sponsor, they just opened a new facility in the Cape," Taylor said.
Luminaries are lit as part of a special ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence during that part of the event.
"Premiere Oncology has been very supportive, along with Lee Memorial Health System, 21st Century Oncology, Southwest Florida Urologic Associates, and Florida Cancer Specialists," Taylor said. "The Sons of Italy Club in the Cape is also a big sponsor."
"We are also so happy to have Bonefish Grill in Cape Coral sponsor our survivor reception for the second year in a row. They have donated all of the food and we are so thankful for their support," said Donna Germain, Cape Team Development chair.
She also announced that The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life of Cape Coral committee had selected Linda Biondi as its Honorary Chair and Joann Lauro as its Memorial Chair this year's Relay For Life of Cape Coral.
Lauro, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, was a devoted member of the Women's Council of Realtors, past president of the Harney Point Kiwanis Club as well as being active member of the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral, Germain added.
"Biondi, a survivor of five and a half years, was one of the founding committee members of the first Relay For Life of Cape Coral. She is also a member of the Cape Coral Association of Realtors, the Association of Realtors of Greater Fort Myers and the Beach, Charles J. Bonaparte Lodge #2504 of the Sons of Italy, Cape Coral Women's Council of Realtors where she was the local chapter president, District Vice-President and State Governor for the state of Florida WCR."
"It's an important event to me because my dad had and died from cancer, my aunt and my godfather died of cancer, and many of my friends and relatives are survivors like me," said Biondi.
The 2012 Event Chair is Crystal Kaczynski.
"One of the things we pride ourselves on in the Cape is making the event fun, a celebration of life. The teams have campsites where they do fund raising all evening, and a lot of our teams have food for sale.
"We also try to incorporate different contests, like whose food is best. We also have one for their Spirit Stick that they make in the spirit of the relay."
Her teams theme is Cars - appropriate because she works for State Farm.
"Our slogan is 'Pit Stop For A Cure.' Also, my uncle is a painter who is painting an adirondack chair and one lucky person will walk away with it in our chance raffle."
Entertainment Chairman Bill Johnson, Jr. said, "We'll be having entertainment for the whole entire 18-hour event. We have several local bands, and are featuring Smack Daddy, The George Lewis Project and The Oysters. We also have DJ Ramo G. from 105.5 The Beat who will be there and the highlight of the evening will be our Ms. Relay contest, where the gentlemen dress up like ladies in a whole beauty pageant with judges and all. That will be at 11 p.m. It is going to be a fun event; we want as many people that can to come out."