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24-hour Ligonier Relay for Life event kicks off Friday afternoon

| Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The American Cancer Society Ligonier Relay for Life will kick off 3 p.m. Friday at Weller Field.

More than 20 teams will gather for the 24-hour fundraiser. All funds are used for cancer research or to aid/assist local cancer victims.

“We are always excited for the Relay for Life,” said Eric Vogelsang chairman of the Ligonier relay.

Vogelsang, 35, graduated from Ligonier Valley High School in 1997. He earned a teaching degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and is in his 12th year of teaching at Ligonier Middle School.

“It's a great opportunity for the community to come together for such a great cause and never ceases to amaze and how well the community comes together for such a great event.”

More than $31,000 has already been raised by the 172 local fundraisers.

“Our goal is to raise $108,000,” said Vogelsang. “We lost a few teams from last year so that may be a little ambitious but it's certainly what we are rooting for. We've raised over $100,000 the last four years which I think is hugely impressive for a community as small as ours and I will be thrilled if we get over $100,000 for the fifth straight year”

This is the 11th year the Relay for Life has been held in Ligonier. Vogelsang has been the chairman for the past five years.

“I'm involved in a lot of things but this is far and away the most affirming and rewarding work I do,” he said. “I work with a great team on my committee who truly will do anything for each other to make the event a success. I'm also happy/proud as chairman and a teacher to be a connection to get the youth of our valley involved which happens more and more each year.”

Vogelsang said a new running event will be added this year. The Ligonier Valley YMCA running team will begin at 3 p.m.

“We will have team that is running for all 24 hours. This was an inspiration my brother, Bryan Vogelsang, had and he is working with Ligonier YMCA to make this team,” Vogelsang said.

The original Relay for Life was started in 1985 by Dr. Gordon Clapp.

“It was an event where a few men (mostly Clapp) ran for all 24 hours so I love the idea paying homage to the original relay as well as promoting the healthy lifestyles by running the entire time,” Vogelsang said.

A full schedule of events will keep all participants busy through the night.

“We have 21 teams registered, we have 15 committee members. On Friday night the track will be full of people, I can tell you that for sure,” he said.

Activities begin 10 a.m. Friday morning, when teams set up at Weller Field.

Between 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Ligonier Middle School and Ligonier Valley Y Care students walk to the Diamond to make donations.

At 3 to 5:30 p.m. the first musical performance will begin and the teams will start walking around the track. Snickers the Horse and Clover the Skunk will visit for photographs with the children at 4:30 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. the Ligonier Valley Middle School Band will perform on the bleachers.

The opening ceremony will be held 6 to 6:30 p.m. Ligonier Valley High School Superintendent Dr. Christine Oldham and Mayor Ormond “Butch” Bellas will be the featured speakers. The Ligonier Valley Honor Guard will present the colors and the National Anthem will be sung by senior Allison Fox.

At that time, all teams will be announced and relay merchant hall of fame members will be introduced.

“We are starting our “Merchant Hall of Fame” this year, where we all recognize business locally who have given great support to the relay over the years,” Vogelsang said. “This year's entrants into the Merchant Hall of Fame will be Giant Eagle, Bethlen Communities and Post and Rail.”

The ceremony will conclude with a survivor lap followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

During the survivor lap, upbeat music plays as all cancer survivors take the first lap around the track as others line the track and cheer them on.

The Bricks will perform 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Crazy Hat Lap will be held at 8 p.m.

The luminaria ceremony and memory wall will be conducted at 9 p.m. This event is held to remember people lost to cancer, show support for those who have cancer and honor people who had cancer in the past.

“The luminaria ceremony is always the highlight,” Vogelsang said. “While there will be tons of fun games and music all 24 hours, this is the reason we're here — to remember those who past from this dreaded disease and honor those who've survived. When we get feedback at the end of each year's event, inevitably, the luminaria is always a highlight. Cindy Shaffer (former chairman of the relay) is in charge of the luminaria and always does a fabulous job.”

DJ Renee will entertain at 10 p.m.

There will be an egg toss at 10 p.m. followed by a Jello relay at 11 p.m. and a cheese ball contest at midnight.

Sunday morning programs include a sleeping bag relay at 1 a.m., cornhole tournament at 2 a.m., apple bobbing relay at 3:30 a.m. and poker laps at 4 a.m.

A sunrise scavenger hunt will be held at 6:30 a.m. At 7:30 a.m. a trivia contest will be held.

At 8 a.m. there will be a punt, pass and kick competition. Then a 50-yard-dash competition at 9 a.m.

A frozen T-shirt relay will begin at 10 a.m. The firefighter recognition lap is 10 a.m.

Basket ticket raffle sales end at 11 a.m. and winners will be announced at 12:30 p.m.

The final events on the schedule are a tug of war at 1 p.m., a minute-to-win-it challenge at 1:30 p.m. and closing ceremonies at 2:30 p.m.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or

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