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Relay exceeding expectations

November 16, 2018 GMT

LAUGHLIN — Excitement is building, teams keep signing up and expectations are being exceeded as the annual Tri-State Relay for Life approaches.

The event is slated for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, at Mojave Crossing Event Center, 101 S. Aztec Road.

“There’s so much excitement that’s going to happen that day,” said event lead Ashley Hendren.

There’s still a few details coming together but there will be local entertainment and the number of sponsors has grown, she said.

The relay and the Luminaria ceremony, toward the end of the event, are the main events but there are a few new things for participants and spectators to be excited about, Hendren said.

Billy Kay and Grace Black and Class Act perform, she said.

Nevada Made Marijuana and DOT Foods are presenting sponsors and the Avi Resort and Casino and the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe continue to be sponsors and big supporters of the event, Hendren said.

“We Care Cancer is one of the onsite fundraisers and is hosting a Christmas bazaar,” she said.

The teams will be located on the bottom floor of the building and vendors will be on the second level mezzanine, where participants and spectators can do a little Christmas shopping, she said.

“The hope is this will bring in more people because it’s Christmas time, it’s during the day and it’s during the weekend,” said Hendren. “It will be real exciting.”

Theme laps are new this year too, said Hendren, to help keep things interesting throughout the day.

There will be a family lap, a survivors lap, a patriotic lap, a team lap and more.

A survivors and caregivers luncheon is also planned.

The Luminaria portion of the event, one of the most moving and powerful moments during Relay, will wrap up the day, Hendren said.

“Elle Brown does a really fantastic job,” she said. “She always does a really nice poem.”

The lights are turned off and the luminaria bags are the only lights showing, Hendren said, with the names of survivors and friends and family lit up on the bags.

Hendren said there is usually a video shown and it brings to light the reason they do the relay.

It is moving and an ‘a-ha’ moment for anyone who hasn’t participated before, she said.

The event went through a major makeover, changing times, dates and adding features to help bring in more teams. Thus far, those plans seem to be working.

The group raised about $6,800 as of July. To date they are at about $26,000.

Hendren said the organization would love to be able to raise $100,000 but anything that’s raised is a good amount.

There are 28 teams that have signed up with one signing up as recently as Nov. 10, and teams can keep signing up until the day of the event.

“We have 224 participants that have signed up for the Relay,” said Hendren. “That’s huge.”

She’s expecting to have more than 250 participants this year, she said. So the hope to break $50,000 raised remains high.

Other ways of measuring how successful the changes have been include new teams signing up to participate, including a group from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Laughlin Substation.

Part of that success comes from having changed the date from May to December.

“This is just such a wonderful time of year,” said Hendren.

Like a Hallmark Channel movie, the event gives this feeling of hope especially since it’s being held at Christmas time, she continued.

The winter visitors are back and they want to participate, Hendren said.

Much of the success goes to all the sponsors, which is indicative of the increased community involvement, the volunteers and the teams, said Hendren.

“Kathleen (Whitehead) has been one of the main people to help with getting sponsors,” she said. “This whole event couldn’t be possible without the whole leadership team that we have.”

Those organizing, aren’t the only volunteers.

“The entire event is completely volunteer,” said Hendren. “The teams, the leadership team, the sponsors and more all come together to make this happen and they do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Everyone wants to stop cancer.”

The thing about the relay is that it brings people from all walks of life together, said Hendren. Cancer impacts so many different people in different ways including impacting pet owners.

Funds raised go toward research and helping cancer patients with various needs such as paying bills, transportation and more through the American Cancer Society. There is no minimum amount to fundraise.

Those wishing to participate can join at www.tristaterelay.com. The website also provides ideas for fundraisers.