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Relay recruits teams, plans birthday

The Cottage Grove Area Relay for Life will celebrate the start of the 25th year of the Relay nationwide, beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, July 10, at Kingston Park, in Cottage Grove.

"Our theme this year is 'Happy Birthday, Relay,'" said Relay co-chair Alesha Schutz.

The Relay for Life, a benefit to raise funds for the American Cancer Society, was started in 1986 by Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma surgeon, as a way to raise funds and show support for his patients who had battled cancer. The first Relay raised $33,000, according to the national Relay for Life Web site.

In Cottage Grove, team members will walk relay-style from 6 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Saturday, July 11. Each team collects pledges and raises money through a variety of activities before, during and after the Relay.

During the evening, local residents who have survived cancer and their caregivers are recognized. Luminaria -- candles set in sand inside decorated paper bags -- are lit to remember loved ones lost to the disease.

Last year at its second event the Cottage Grove Area Relay for Life raised more than $60,000. The goal this year is $68,000, said Schutz.

This year's Relay will be held at Kingston Park in Cottage Grove, a change from the '08 event that took place at Cottage Grove Junior High School. Schutz said the track will be outlined by luminaria on the grass. Demonstrations, food, games and a silent auction will be set up in a separate area. Tents will be placed in a quiet zone.

Also new this year, Schutz said the committee is looking for a backup site in case of inclement weather. The '08 relay was cancelled before the opening ceremony due to thunderstorms, high wind and lightning.

Sixteen teams are registered this year with space for many more, Schutz said. To register, call her at (651) 503-3047 or e-mail Co-chair Cyndie Leary can be reached at (651) 493-7868.