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Relay for Life event to be held on July 26

Jonesborough is adorned in purple, as Tennessee’s Oldest Town kicks off its second annual Relay for Life event on Saturday, July 26, from noon to midnight throughout downtown.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life festivities provide an opportunity to honor cancer survivors, remember those who have been lost to the disease and a chance for the community to come together to raise funds and awareness of cancer. The movement symbolizes hope and a shared goal to end a disease that threatens the lives of so many loved ones.
“Our event focuses on all types of cancer, as we know that cancer affects anyone and everyone,” American Cancer Society specialist Jessica Poff said. “That is why you will always see us ‘Painting the Town Purple,’ and Jonesborough does a wonderful job at that. Purple symbolizes all cancers, and it symbolizes hope.”
Jonesborough’s Relay for Life event begins at noon throughout Downtown with a high-energy opening ceremony honoring the lives of those who have battled cancer, with the hope to inspire others by sharing recent accomplishments and progress. The opening ceremony also provides an opportunity to remind folks that while they are winning the battle, fighting cancer is a year-round priority.
“There will be entertainment and activities throughout downtown Jonesborough all day,” Poff said. “Teams have been raising money all year with projects like Jonesboroughopoly, and there will be opportunities to get involved during the event featuring baked goods, fun games, crafts and the Jonesborough Area Merchants & Services Association Dunk Tank with lots of local friends. We will also host a wonderful Survivor Dinner at the International Storytelling Center.”
Last year’s Relay for Life event in Jonesborough raised $30,000 with the help of community supporters, cancer survivors and sponsors. This year, the organization hopes to raise $40,000.
The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event lasts 12 hours, symbolizing a day in the life of someone with cancer. The day begins energetic, symbolizing the survivor going through everyday life. Then, the sun starts to set, symbolizing when the survivor hears the words, “You have cancer.” The hours after that mark the treatment and moments when they feel they cannot make it through another night or day.
At 6:30 p.m., the survivors lap begins as all present cancer survivors take a lap around downtown celebrating their victory over the disease. A special caregivers lap will also take place including anyone who has cared for someone with cancer. Both walks through downtown will take place as the crowd gathers and cheers on participants when they pass by.
The luminaria ceremony will begin at 10 p.m., and is a time to remember people who have been lost to cancer, support people who currently have cancer and honor those who have fought cancer in the past.
“Luminaria is always an emotional time. A local survivor typically shares their story as each attendee is given a glow stick and answers who they are participating for,” Poff said. “Each person lights their glow stick and it is completely silent. Our luminaria volunteers even spell ‘hope’ on the Courthouse steps and it is one of the most beautiful things.”
Following the luminaria ceremony, a fight back ceremony will take place at 11:30 p.m. symbolizing the emotional commitment made to the fight against cancer. The actions taken represent what people are willing to do for themselves, their loved ones as well as the community to fight cancer year-round while committing to saving lives.
“As the event closes, you can feel anticipation and excitement in the air. It’s a sense of ‘I can do this,’ and that is what our survivors feel as they start to have more good days. They start to see the light peeking through again, and they begin to remember what hope is about,” Poff said.
Jonesborough’s Relay for Life event will end at midnight with a closing ceremony, providing a time to remember the lives of those lost and to celebrate each participant’s commitment through Relay for Life to fight back against cancer over the next year.
“Jonesborough’s Relay for Life event is in its second year, and we are always in need of volunteers to be on our planning team,” Poff said.
“Paint the Town Purple will be held July 14 through 26 in anticipation of the Relay for Life event on July 26. I have never seen a community come together and paint a town purple quite like Jonesborough does,” Poff said.
Some of the 2013 Paint the Town Purple contest winners include the First Baptist Church, The Dining Room, The Olde Courthouse Diner and Jonesborough Antique Mart.
“East Tennessee Ghost Tours is conducting a fundraiser by donating a portion of their tour sales, the Merchants Association will be constructing a Colors of Cancer Tree again and the Jonesborough Senior Center have raised quite a bit of funds as well,” Poff said.
For additional information on Jonesborough’s Relay for Life event on July 26, contact Jessica Poff at 282-7001, [email protected] or visit