Two things bring McDuffie County folks together in big numbers: Thomson High School football and the annual Relay for Life.
"Not only is McDuffie County's relay good for the American Cancer Society and the fight against cancer, but it's good for this community because it builds community pride," McDuffie Relay for Life Co-Chairman Bob Knox Jr. said at the 2009 celebration.
The Relay For Life will kick off tonight with a team registration meeting at the Thomson-Augusta Tech Auditorium.
Relay for Life is held in communities across the nation as the primary fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
"Relay for Life gives us all a tangible, hands-on means to fight the dreaded disease, raise funds for research and patient care and educate all as to the early detection and cure of cancer," according to a news release last week announcing the event.
McDuffie County held the event for 12 years before taking a break in 2010. The county won several national awards for the most money raised per capita, and organizers needed a rest. Mr. Knox said McDuffie County raised more than $1.9 million during those 12 years.
"We took last year off, and it was a good time to get everybody refreshed," Mr. Knox said. "Now we're ready to go forward and have another great relay, and we hope everybody will get involved."
Goals this year include $185,000 in fundraising from the 1,500 participants on 45 teams. At least 250 cancer survivors are also to be honored.
Those goals are based on numbers from the 2009 relay, which ended up lower than previous years because of the down economy. Mr. Knox said the 2011 numbers are a starting point "and we can move up from there."
Mary Wade Bell is co-chairwoman with Mr. Knox in the 2011 effort. They encourage all past relay teams, as well as anyone interested in setting up a new team, to attend the kickoff meeting. A minimum of 10 people can set up a team, sponsored by a church, business or civic club or a group to honor cancer survivors or victims. Sign-ups will continue until the relay event.
This year's relay is scheduled for Friday, May 13, at the Thomson High walking track.