Cancer society's Relay for Life set for April 27

The signs of spring are all around us: tulips in bloom, basketball tournaments, and now longer evenings. So it's time to prepare for another rite of spring: the annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life event in Cabarrus County.

This year, Relay for Life returns to the Cabarrus Arena and Events Center on Friday, April 27. Opening ceremonies begin at 7 p.m. and everything wraps up the following morning at 10.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, cancer survivors have their own special event: the survivors' dinner. According to Kim Beecham, in her third year coordinating the event, Relay for Life is all about celebrating survivors. She would love to have everyone from Cabarrus County who has ever battled cancer to come and be a part of the survivors' dinner.

Advance registration is appreciated, but not necessary. Just come and be honored; it's that simple.

Because cancer never rests, neither does the Relay; something will be happening all night. The survivors' lap will kick things off, and the luminaria lighting will be at 9:30 p.m. The Concord Police Department K-9 unit will hold demonstrations at 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. There will be a survivor speaker, live music, karaoke and contests.

Cabarrus County Relay is incorporating a circus theme this year. Organizers are asking each team to have a carnival game. With 45 teams registered so far (and Beecham hopes there will be even more), that should provide plenty of entertainment.

The Mount Pleasant Tigers team, primarily folks associated with the elementary and middle schools, but open to anyone in the Mount Pleasant community, is embracing the theme. They're planning to offer face painting at the Relay, transforming kids into clowns. They're also having circus-themed shirts made, and you are invited to participate in the creation of those shirts.

Julie Stephenson from Mount Pleasant Middle School is the team captain and she explained the "Tigers Taming Cancer" shirts: Along with pictures of the big top and circus rings, the names of loved ones who have faced cancer will be listed on the shirts. For just $2, you can add the name of someone you know.

Stephenson is quick to point out that the names will be both "in memory" and "in honor" of loved ones. It doesn't matter if they've won, lost, or are still facing their battle; they will all be included on the team shirts.

If you'd like to add a name to the Tigers' shirts, call Julie Stephenson at 704-621-0454 or email her at no later than March 26. You can also order a shirt for yourself.

If you'd like to join the Mount Pleasant team or learn more about Relay for Life, check out their website: