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Relay for Life of Wauwatosa happening Friday

July 23, 2014

At least 63 people are signed up to participate in Relay for Life of Wauwatosa on Friday, July 25, at Wisconsin Lutheran High School, 330 N Glenview Ave.

The event follows a relay by Wauwatosa East and West high schools, which raised about $15,000, and one at Pius XI High School.

Together with Friday's participants, fundraisers had accumulated more than $38,000 as of July 23. Top fundraising teams for Friday's event included Gardeners for a Cure, led by Kathleen K Costello; Nelson Financial Group, led by Nicole Nelson; and Team Belair Tosa, led by Jaime Baker.

The American Cancer Society uses the money for research on all types of cancer and to provide free information and services to cancer patients and caregivers.

Relay for Life specialist Claire Oslund said she hopes the Wauwatosa events raise $45,000 this year, although it's tougher than most.

"We're in kind of a down year where people are getting a little burned out, so we're looking for more creative ideas," Oslund said. "The two high school events and community event kind of wears people out. We're kind of in a building year."

It's the first year Wisconsin Lutheran High School has hosted the relay, although Wisconsin Lutheran College has hosted it in the past. The event was moved to the high school this year due to construction at the college.

Carolyn Sachs, communications director for Wisconsin Lutheran High School, said this year will be especially meaningful for staff because they lost a member of the communications department to cancer earlier this year.

"It's a great cause, and we appreciate helping out," Sachs said. "We thought it would be great to honor her memory, too."

The relay begins at 6:30 p.m. with an opening ceremony, which will feature an honorary survivor. At 7 p.m. is the survivors lap, where cancer survivors take a lap around the track as other participants line the track and cheer them on. This is followed by a lap for caregivers.

"It's a really moving time to see all these survivors in their purple shirts walking around the track together," Oslund said. "It's very inspirational."

At 9:30 p.m. there is a candlelit "luminaria ceremony," when participants can take time to remember lost loved ones, support people who currently have cancer and honor those who have fought it. Those attending will be able to draw personal messages, names or images on paper bags to hold the candles in memory of someone.

"We will have a silent lap to remember those who lost their battle and how lucky we are to have the survivors," Oslund said.

The "fight back ceremony" at 11:30 p.m. rallies participants together around things they can do to help fight cancer and support those who have it. Finally, a closing ceremony includes a final lap around the track by all participants and an announcement of how much money was raised.

With an event theme of "Carnival for a Cure," the night will feature many other activities like yard games, pageants and lessons from a Zumba instructor. There will also be concessions, face painting and on-site fundraisers.

Anyone is welcome at the event. Those who haven't registered in advance can participate in the activities as individuals. Find more information at RelayForLife.org.

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