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Mt. Pleasant Relay for Life brings people together

| Saturday, July 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier
Alexander's Pizza, located along Main Street in Mt. Pleasant Borough, is one of many businesses decorated in the Scottdale and Mt. Pleasant areas supporting the upcoming Relay For Life taking place this weekend.

The annual American Cancer Societies' Mt. Pleasant Relay for Life is more than a fundraising effort. It's also a place where those touched by cancer can come together to have fun, support one another and get information on the variety of programs available to them.

This will be the 6th year that Kevin's Krusadors will participate in the event. Linda Millslagle of Mt. Pleasant formed the team in memory of her husband Kevin Millslagle, who passed away from stomach cancer in January 2008.

“It's therapeutic for me. Every year, I look forward to it, and it really helps me to be involved. It makes me feel like I am doing something,” she said.

Last year, Kevin's Krusadors raised $6,000.

“This is my way of giving back in hopes that others do not have to suffer like he did,” Millslagle said.

Relay Chairperson Rachel Davis said there are 29 teams participating this year. “I'm very excited about it. I have an awesome team, and I look for it to be a team event on Saturday with everyone working together to fight for a cure,” Davis said.

A member from each team will hit the walking track when the event begins at noon on Saturday at the Regional Family YMCA, 490 Bessemer Road, Mt. Pleasant (East Huntingdon Township). Team members will take turns walking through the night and into the next morning when the event ends at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Davis said the event is not just for the team but is open to anyone who would like to participate.

“There is so much for people to do and enjoy. (There will be) kids activities, (and) we even have bands playing throughout the day,” she said. “I want people to come out and experience it. I really can't describe it. You have to experience it.”

Most of the teams will be offering food and other items for sale or offering activities to help raise money for the cause, while providing a festival-like atmosphere.

Some of the popular events that will be back this year include the Fight Back Lap at 5 p.m.

“People can purchase a balloon for $1 each and can let them go in memory or in honor of someone who had cancer,” Davis said.

At 6 p.m., the Survivors Lap will be held with the Survivors Dinner immediately following.

“This year's dinner is being provided by the Texas Roadhouse. We usually serve about 300 people in the Survivor tent on the grounds,” Davis said.

The Mister Relay event will be held at 4:30 p.m. Contestants can bring their own outfit or use the tools provided to dress up as fancy and fantastic as they can. The Mister Relays will then strut their stuff and use the tools provided to see who can collect the most money. Prizes will be awarded.

New for this year is the Miss Relay Contest. The contest was opened to girls ages 5 to 19. Contestants have spent the past year raising money for the event, and the girl to raise the most money for each of the three age groups — 5-9, 9-14, 15-19 — will be crowned.

“The Miss Relays will be spokespersons for next year and will go into the schools and hopefully get more young people involved in the relay,” Davis said.

Although the contest for this year is closed, contestants for next year's contest can sign up at the relay this weekend.

The Luminaria will take place at 9 p.m. Davis said luminarias can be purchased up to 6 p.m.

Like the event itself, the American Cancer Society is a multifaceted organization, and the money raised at the annual event helps the organization in many ways.

“The money is used for a variety of things. One is cancer research as well as programs we are able to offer on a local level, such as helping cancer patients get to their treatments or doctor appointments,” said American Cancer Society Income Development Representative Andrea Giachetti.

Last year, the event raised around $130,000. Giachetti said this year's goal is $139,000.

“The money raised means a lot. It's very special because it shows that individual communities can come together to raise that amount of money, and it shows that the local people in the communities support us. It also helps bring awareness to all the other programs we offer in addition to cancer research,” she said.

Linda Harkcom is a contributing writer.

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