MATTOON — Community members are invited to celebrate success stories in the fight against cancer during the annual Coles County Relay for Life on Saturday.
The 2019 Relay fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, which has a "Celebration of Hope" theme this year, is scheduled from 3-11 p.m. Saturday in Peterson Park at Broadway Avenue and Third Street in Mattoon.
Admission will be free and open to the general public.
"Our goal is to make it a celebration of hope," said Relay committee member Jason Wyatt, "We are hoping to keep everybody busy and involved that day."
Wyatt added that the event also will be an opportunity to celebrate the memories of those who have lost their lives to cancer. The annual memorial luminaria lighting ceremony is set for 9-10 p.m.
Relay for Life fundraising teams and other community members will once again walk laps around Grimes Field at Peterson Park throughout the event.
There will be a bubble lap at 6:45 p.m. and a glow walk at 8:30 p.m. Wyatt said a small train will be available for the first time this year to give rides to those who are unable to walk the course.
After the Relay's opening ceremonies are held at 6-6:40 p.m., the annual cancer survivor and caregiver lap will take place at 6:45-7 p.m. to give them a place of honor at this event.
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Wyatt said the committee opted to hold its annual survivor and caregiver dinner on Aug. 15 in Peterson's air conditioned Demars Center rather than in the park's pavilion during the Relay.
He said all of the dinner's attendees were given a special invitation to the Relay, as well.
"We want them to be part of our event," Wyatt said.
To build on the "Celebration of Hope" theme this year, Wyatt said the Relay committee and its fundraising teams have added to their festivities. For example, he said the Clint's Cancer Crushers team will offer a slip and slide course.
In addition, Wyatt said the Mattoon Central Community Church's team will bring a "smash car" event back to Relay. He said participants can relieve stress by taking turns beating on a junked car that has had its window glass and auto fluids removed.
"You can put some real dents into that car," Wyatt said.
The Relay will offer demonstrations and live music, too. This includes a Jazzercise warmup, 2:30 p.m.; Mattoon Community Concert Band, 3-4 p.m.; Kevin Roberts taekwondo demonstration, 4-4:30 p.m.; mini cheer camp, 4:30-5 p.m.; Mattoon High School dance team performance, 5-5:30 p.m.; frozen T-shirt contest, 5:30-6 p.m.; Amplified concert, 7-8 p.m.; Kris's Power Tumbling, 8-8:30 p.m.; and Mike Sanders concert, 10-11 p.m.
Wyatt said the Relay also will offer food and drink vendors, such as Sweet Teaz of Charleston and Italian beef from Monical's Pizza of Mattoon, and concessions from the fundraising teams, such as the Baptists Believin' in a Cure team's signature "walking tacos."
The fundraisers for the American Cancer Society's research and awareness programs on Saturday also will include a silent auction in the park pavilion, raffles, bake sales, and more.
More information about Saturday's event is available by visiting the Relay for Life of Coles County, IL page on Facebook or www.relayforlife.org/colesIL.