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Posted: 05/15/13

Sisters and co-captains of Team Bootman Crusaders for a Cure, Debbie Allagreen, pictured at left, and Kathy Kirby have been fundraising for months in preparation for Relay For Life of Romeo, which will be held May 18-19. The team auctioned off gift baskets at a recent bowling fundraiser. They will also sell Tomboy Tools at their tent during Relay and donate a portion of the sales to the American Cancer Society.

(Observer photo by Debi Martone)

46 teams gearing up for
15th annual Relay For Life

Observer Special Writer

      Organizers, volunteers, teammates and cancer survivors are gearing up for the annual Relay For Life of Romeo, to be held Saturday-Sunday, May 18 and 19 at Barnabo Field. The 24-hour event is in its 15th year.
       This year's Relay will highlight the 100th anniversary of the American Cancer Society (ACS), who, through events such as the Relay, utilizes fundraising dollars for research and programs that are beneficial to patients who have or are currently undergoing treatments for cancer.
       Judy Secord, chairperson of the Relay For Life of Romeo, said 46 teams have been busy fundraising, crafting, baking and planning for many months in preparation for the event with hopes of surpassing their goal of raising $100,000.
       "We are already at $80,000," Secord said. "We have 17 more teams than last year and our fundraising is going really well. We are already having a really good year."
       This year's Relay for Life theme is "Countries." Secord said the theme was chosen to bring awareness to the fact that cancer has no boundaries.
       "Cancer doesn't just affect people in the U.S.," she said.
       An Opening Ceremony begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by the emotional Survivor's Lap. Those who have survived their battle with cancer are encouraged to take part in the Lap and can sign up for free on the Relay For Life website, Survivors are given a free T-shirt as well as a bag to collect special items from each tent. Survivors are also invited to a free pig roast immediately following the lap.
       Numerous activities will take place throughout the day on Saturday, including a silent auction, games, karaoke, dance contests, and various activities at individual tents. Secord said one team has a Brazilian Carnival planned while others will be selling baked goods and handcrafted items.
       "A lot of people think Relay is about just walking around the track a few times," said Secord. "But it is more than that, much more than that. We have a lot of fun stuff going on."
       Oakland Township resident and cancer survivor, Debbie Allagreen, is the captain of Team Bootman Crusader's for a Cure, a new team to join the event this year. Along with her sister and co-captain, Kathy Kirby of Washington Township, the Bootman Crusader's was formed in honor of their brother, nicknamed "Bootsie," who lost his battle to lung cancer in 2009.
       "We are superheros," said Kirby.
       Allagreen's team will be selling Tomboy Tools, high quality tools designed for women, at their tent. The team will donate 20 percent of their proceeds to the ACS.
       At 4 p.m. a Fight Back Ceremony will be held. Also an emotional ceremony, event organizers will motivate the crowd to be tenacious about the fight for a cure for cancer. At 10 p.m., the lights will be lowered for the more subdued Luminaria Ceremony, which gives an opportunity to those wanting to honor and remember a family member or friend who they lost to the disease.
       "Those who cannot make it to Relay during the day should definitely try to make it for the Luminaria Ceremony," said Secord. "It is the most touching part of the event."
       The event will close at 9 a.m. on Sunday.
       Relay For Life of Romeo is a family event and admission is free. Barnabo Field, the Romeo Community Schools' athletic field, is located off 29 Mile Road, east of Van Dyke. More information and a list of sponsors can be found on the website.

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