Organizers gearing up for the 2012 Relay For Life of Poinciana.

Ivonne Palacios is the event chairman of the Relay For Life of Poinciana, which kicks off on April 27. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

POINCIANA – Last Thursday, a group of people in the Poinciana area got together at the Poinciana Community Center, with a mission: to sit down, and talk about cancer.
As Ivonne Palacios noted a few days before the event, it was intended to be a fun night, with food, music and prizes.
“We’re going to have a party,” she said. “Everyone is invited to come. I’m going to bring yellow rice, and we will have a raffle and music.”
If that sounds like an odd combination – a meeting in which people talk about the ongoing battle against cancer, while at the same time playing music and enjoying a good meal — Palacios said there’s no contradiction whatsoever. The event, after all, was the kick off for the 2012 Relay For Life of Poinciana fund-raiser, which will be held April 27-28.
“All the money we get is for people with cancer to get treatment,” Palacios said. “For some people, they don’t have anyone to support them.”
That’s why Relay For Life is, in a sense, a celebration, she said: because it encourages people from the community to turn out, and walk, to show their support for patients who are battling cancer, and for those who are working so hard to develop a cure.
It’s also a way of throwing a life raft to those cancer patients, Palacios said, by letting them know there are a lot of people in the community who care about them, and are praying for their recovery.
“We stay the entire day to commemorate the people who are suffering from cancer,” she said.
Relay For Life is intended to be about three things: celebrating those who are winning their own personal fight against cancer and the loved ones who are caring for them, remembering those who were sadly lost to the disease, and encouraging the entire community to fight back.
“Relay For Life is a life-changing event that helps communities across the globe celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease,” the non-profit agency’s Web site notes.
Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, Relay For Life began in Tacoma, Washington in the mid-1980s, when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, decided to personally raise money for the fight against cancer by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons. In May 1985, Klatt spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, and ran for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Klatt for 30 minutes, and he helped raise $27,000 for his local American Cancer Society office.
Now Relay is an event held across the country — last year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities across the United States participated, according to the American Cancer Society — including in Poinciana.
“This is going to be our fourth year doing this,” said Palacios, who is the event chairman of the Poinciana Relay For Life.
The 2012 Relay For Life of Poinciana starts on April 27 at 6 p.m. at Liberty High School.
“One of the more beautiful things about this event is that is goes through the entire night,” Palacios said.
Following the opening ceremony at 6, the survivor lap begins. That’s followed by a Luminaria Ceremony at 9 p.m. on April 27, with the closing ceremony at 11:30 a.m. on April 28.
Teams of people will camp out at the school, then take turns walking or running around the track. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event.
To learn more, log on to RelayForLife.org. To make a gift to this event, make a check payable to the American Cancer Society, Attn: Relay For Life of Poinciana, 1601 West Colonial Drive, Orlando FL 32804.

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