It has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in Haverhill for the fight against cancer.
Over the last two decades, thousands of local people have participated — from cancer patients and survivors to people who have lost loved ones to the disease.
Next month, the annual Relay for Life fundraiser will return to Haverhill for the 18th straight year.
The annual overnight event will be held at the track at Northern Essex Community College and will again raise money for the American Cancer Society for research and support for cancer victims and their families.
"It's a very personalized event," said event chairwoman Gina Bowman. "We want everyone to know that this event is run by volunteers who are local and we make an effort to personally know every team and their cause."
More than 40 teams have signed up for the fundraiser with as few as three and as many as 40 members per team.
The event will start at 3 p.m. on June 8 and go 24 straight hours before ending at 3 p.m. on June 9. Members of each team will take turns walking the NECC track, so each team has at least one member walking during the entire event. Teams raise money by signing up people and businesses to make donations.
The Relay for Life has been a big money-raiser for the American Cancer Society. Last year, $387 million was raised nationwide through Relay for Life events, including $11 million in Massachusetts.
The event will feature a 24-hour disc jockey and a variety of ceremonies and other events. There is an opening ceremony at 3 p.m., a "survival" ceremony which honors survivors of cancer and their care givers, a luminary ceremony at night in which thousands of candles are lit to remember those who lost their battle with cancer, and a "fightback'' ceremony where participants pledge to take action and create awareness about cancer research.
There will be pie eating contests, live musical performances from local groups, food, music and other entertainment.
Last year, the Haverhill community raised $167,000 and had 140 cancer survivors walk in the event. This year, relay organizers have raised $66,000 so far and expect to raise more than $100,000 through the Haverhill event.
More information is available at RelayForLife.org.
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