Relay For Life fights cancer on Jan. 31

Let's "Make Cancer a Thing of the Past."

That's the theme for this year's Clay County Relay For Life, scheduled to be held from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. The Clay County Chapter of the American Cancer Society and the USD Chapter of Colleges Against Cancer are gearing up to promote awareness, encourage healthy lifestyles, share information and raise funds to fight the many forms of cancer.

Here's how it works. Community members, from USD and throughout the county, form teams of up to 15 people to raise money and walk around the track during the event. Teams preregister by calling Wess Pravecek at 624-5352 (teams may register at the event, but T-shirts may not be available). Doors open at noon so teams can sign in, turn in money and set up a "camp site" resting area for their group at the Dome. The event gets under way at 1 p.m. as area cancer survivors walk around the track. Then, teams join them for the rest of the afternoon. Participants can learn more about cancer at information booths at the event and enjoy activities and entertainment.

Each team member gets a Relay For Life T-shirt and participants can even win prizes. Each team member donates $10 to participate and raises more dollars from family, friends, aquaintances and colleagues, as well. Prizes are awarded for the team and individual who collect the most in donations. The best decorated "camp site" wins a prize, too. For every $50 an individual raises, he or she gets an entry into a drawing for prizes like a 19-inch HDTV, a Sony Walkman, a hotel getaway and more.

 The Relay is also a time to remember. The Relay will sell "luminarias" before and during the event so those who have battled cancer can be honored. For a $5 donation, a decorated white bag  that bears the name of a cancer survivor or someone who died of cancer will be placed along the track. Participants can read the names as they walk around the track, and the names on all the luminarias will be read during the Relay. Donors can decorate the bags themselves with the name, drawings and photos or have Relay volunteers do the decorations.
Here's how you participate.
• To form a TEAM and get a team packet, contact Wess Pravecek, 605-624-5352.
• To participate in the SURVIVOR activities, call Barb Kronaizl, 624-8929.
• You may purchase LUMINARIAS before the Relay: The Nook 'N Cranny, the Civic Council store and the Vermillion Beauty Shop, all in downtown Vermillion; or the Vermillion Federal Credit Union at Cherry and Dakota. They also will be sold at the Relay.
• For more information, go to

The money raised is used by the American Cancer Society for research, public education and help for cancer patients and their families.

In 2008, more than 4,000 South Dakotans were diagnosed with cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Prostate cancer, breast cancer and lung-related cancers were among the most common.

"According to American Cancer Society statistics, 1,640 South Dakotans died of cancer last year," said Relay Community Chair Wess Pravecek. "We can change these statistics in the future, if we work together. When you're talking about cancer, a little knowledge can save a life."

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