Cancer survivors and supporters are gearing up for the sixth annual Relay For Life in Sharp County.
This year's event will be held June 5 at Highland High School from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and will offer the walk along with entertainment, games, food and a silent auction, with all proceeds going to the American Cancer Society for cancer research.
Relay for Life is the number one fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society and started several years ago when a doctor walked for 24 hours to raise money for cancer research. Since that time, it has become an annual event held in thousands of locations throughout the country.
The event is typically held from 6 p.m to 6 a.m., but Sharp County's event has changed the times to allow more people to participate.
"We have a lot of retirees in the area," said Roberta Shankle, chairperson of the Sharp County Unit of the American Cancer Society. "We changed the time to get more people out. A lot of people want to come and want to help but they can't because they can't stay up that late or can't drive at night. We wanted to make it easier for them."
Each year approximately 75 survivors participate in the Relay for Life along with 500 to 600 volunteers and supporters who come to help find a cure.
"Almost everyone has had a friend, family member or someone they know that has been touched by cancer," said Shankle who first became involved in Relay for Life several years ago in Crittenden County through her sister, a cancer survivor. "We want these people out there to show their support."
Shankle said she has lost two friends to cancer in the last two weeks -- a former boss and a neighbor.
"Every time a woman goes to have a mammogram there's the fear of them finding cancer," Shankle said. "It's a very real disease."
This year organizers have a goal to raise $20,000 and they began their fund-raising weeks ago. A recent event, Crazy for a Cure, where local officials have to call to collect money for their "bail" raised $1,300, Shankle said.
Teams of walkers have already been soliciting donations.
The main event is the famous walk with lighted luminarias surrounding the walking track to honor cancer survivors and as a memorial to those who have lost their battle with cancer.
Registration for the walk will begin at 4:30 p.m. and the walk will begin at 6 after a welcoming speech by Sharp County Judge Harold Crawford and a survivor induction by Dr. Julea Garner.
The walk isn't the only thing going on during the 12-hour event.
Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase a variety of foods including fried pies, hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, nachos and barbecue chicken plates. Several area bands will play throughout the event including Chris Walkman, Golden Country, Collins Family and Johnine Moore and Sunset.
Games will be set up for children. A hand-painted cake stand and cover, a Razorback trailer hitch cover, a 36-inch copper firepit, horse yard stakes, a horse table, a bird house and much more will be sold during the silent auction to generate money for the American Cancer Society.
In addition, a motorcycle poker run will raise funds for the society.
Registration will begin at 11 a.m. at Rebel Station in Hardy and riders will leave at noon for a four-hour ride. On their trip riders will stop at several locations and each will be dealt a hand of cards. Those with the best hand win the pot. At a cost of $15, $10 will be given to the society while $5 will go toward the poker pot.
Event-goers will have the chance to register for a drawing for a Razorback barbecue grill donated by Daisy Payne in memory of her son, Glen Payne, who died of cancer just two days after last year's Relay for Life.
Shankle said this year's event promises to be big.
"We want everyone there that we can get," Shankle said. "If they're going out to eat that night we want them to come out and eat with us."
Luminarias can be purchased at most area bank locations or can be purchased the day of the event.