24-hour Relay for Life event starts Friday at Ligonier Diamond
The Ligonier Valley Relay for Life will kick off on the Ligonier Diamond at 1:45 p.m. Friday when students from R.K. Mellon Elementary School and Ligonier Valley Middle School walk to the Diamond to give donations in support of the relay. Meanwhile teams will begin to set up at Weller Field in anticipation of the 24-hour walk to support cancer research.
“The Ligonier Relay For Life is such a great event. The people are amazing. The ability of this town to come together for one cause is inspirational,” said Andrea Giachetti income development representative for the American Cancer Society Inc. division in Greensburg. “Everyone works so hard and I am so grateful for their commitment to the American Cancer Society.”
Mary Ann Hegan of Laughlinton is one of those committed volunteers. It is her first year as co-chairwoman of the event but she has been involved for more than six years.
“My dad died of cancer and my mother-in-law is a 50-year breast cancer survivor,” said Hegan. “When I see all the people affected and how well they are all doing as a result of events like this, it is something that just has to be done. It is a wonderful cause and good way to bring our community together.”
Previously, she helped with basket raffles and other individual team fundraisers. But, this year she decided she wanted to do more to help co-chairman Eric Vogelsang.
Vogelsang said he started helping with the event after another teacher, Cindy Shaffer of Ligonier asked him to attend the event.
“That first year I watched three little kids under age 9 in the survivor lap. I never thought of cancer as something that affected kids until that moment,” he said. “I decided, I am good at organizing things so I helped Cindy for two years and then took over as chairman two years ago.”
Volgesang said he attends various relay conferences and realized how unique the Ligonier event actually is compared to other groups.
“What makes us stand out is how many youth are involved,” he said “That's what I am very proud of. With my connections as a teacher and coach, I help get kids to step into leadership roles and get involved in this relay event.”
During the last three years, the event raised more than $100,000 and won the first-place award for two of last three years based on per capita in nation. “This says how good we are at coming together as a community,” Vogelsang said. “When it is the right cause, people come together to make it happen.”
Vogelsang invites the community to attend the event which begins Friday evening through Saturday afternoon.
“The more the merrier. It is a positive atmosphere. Once you go there once, you always come back,” he said. We are always looking for more people to step up. It speaks well to our community.”
This is the first year the Ligonier Valley High School girls soccer team will participate in the walk. Team captain Katie DeMayo said team members volunteered during the event in previous walks but decided to form a team this year.
“We wanted to do this for Coach Vogelsang, said DeMayo. “It will be a good team bonding experience for us. It is a way to work together to help other people.”
The team will be selling moon and star tags to the student body this week to raise money for the walk.
Ligonier Relay events listed
The Ligonier Valley Relay for Life entertainment schedule includes musical performances and various team competitions throughout the 24-hour event.
Teams will set up at Weller Field between 3 and 5:30 p.m. Friday. The tent decorating competition will get under way at that time.
Cosmo the Dragon will visit the teams for photographs between 4 and 5 p.m.
The Ligonier Valley Middle School band will perform in the bleachers 5:30 to 6 p.m. Friday.
The opening ceremony starts at 6 p.m. featuring the middle school band, the Ligonier Valley High School cheerleaders, Ligonier Valley Honor Guard and Mayor Ormond “Butch” Bellas.
At that time the survivor lap and caregiver lap will be conducted. Allison Fox will sing the National Anthem and the survivor dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.
The local acoustic rock duo The Bricks will perform 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A crazy hat lap will begin at 7 p.m. and an egg toss will he held at 8 p.m.
The luminaria ceremony and memorial wall will begin at 9 p.m.
A DJ will provide music between 10 p.m. and midnight. There will be a Jello relay competition at 11 p.m. and a cheese ball contest at midnight.
Morning activities include a tug of war competition at 1 a.m. followed by a corn hole tournament between 2 and 4 a.m.
A sleeping bag relay will begin at 4 a.m.
During the hours of 4 to 7 a.m., players can earn points during the Wide Awake contest for their teams by walking the most laps in that three-hour time frame.
A 50-yard dash will be held at 5 a.m. followed by a sunrise scavenger hunt at 6 a.m..
A Twinkie/dessert treat relay will begin at 7 a.m. and a punt/pass/kick contest begins at 8 a.m.
Poker laps will start at 9 a.m. followed by a trivia contest at 10 a.m.
An apple bobbing relay will conclude the competitions at noon and closing ceremonies will be held at 2:30 p.m.
Other activities and special laps will be held throughout the relay event.
“Come down and walk a lap or just listen to music and participate in fundraising activities. It is open to all,” Hegan said.
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.