Hundreds will come together today in the fight against cancer at the Relay for Life of Cape Coral.
Organized by the American Cancer Society, the event will take place at Mariner High School over an 18-hour period. Registration begins at 4 p.m., with the opening ceremonies kicking off at 6 p.m.
"Our theme this year is superheroes," event chairman Brett Bisbe, with the American Cancer Society office in Fort Myers, said. "We've got teams that are dressing up as the Flash, Iron Man, the Hulk."
Wonder Woman and Captain America are the hosts for the relay, and there is no admission.
The opening ceremonies will include cancer survivors and caregivers taking to the track for the first lap. It celebrates the survivors' victory over cancer and recognizes the support of the caregivers.
Ethan Hoover, this year's Honorary Survivor Chair, will also speak. He was diagnosed with A.L.L. leukemia in March 2008 at age 2. Ethan endured three years of chemotherapy treatment while battling cancer. Off treatments for just about five years, he will be considered cured from leukemia in May.
Three bands will perform at the event, starting off with Sawgrass at about 6:40 p.m. BlackWater, a country group, will take the stage at 7:45 p.m., followed by classic rock band Rocker at 9:45 p.m.
The luminaria ceremony, in which luminarias are lit around the track, is scheduled for 9 p.m.
"That's kind of our feel good ceremony," he said. "We celebrate our survivors and think about the people we've lost."
If You Go...
2014 Relay for Life of Cape Coral
Today, April 4, at 6 p.m. until
Saturday, April 5, at noon
Mariner High School, 701 N. Chiquita Blvd.
To raise funds for the American Cancer Society
The wife of Karl Nawkson, who was named the 2014 Memorial Chair, will speak. Nawkson was diagnosed in June 2012 and started chemo. After 13 months, he lost his battle to cancer on July 16.
At 11 p.m., the Mz. Relay Pageant takes place. Bisbe explained that the show involves men dressed up as women or female superheroes and includes a beauty pageant, talent portion and mystery question.
"That's the most fun," he said.
Activities are planned throughout the night and morning to keep participants energized.
"We have scavenger hunts and bingo and movies," Bisbe said. "We've got entertainment going throughout the full 18 hours."
A local law enforcement SWAT team will be on hand, with its equipment on site.
"They're going to be one of our teams this year," he said.
"This is a great fundraiser that we have," Bisbe added. "We got a lot of great community involvement and involvement from the city, as a whole."
As of Thursday, approximately 30 teams had signed up to take part in the relay.
"Our goal this year is $150,000," he said. "We're pretty confident we're going to hit that."
Organizers had hoped to raise $125,000 at last year's event.
"We did just under that," Bisbe said.
Linda Biondi is captain of the Friends Again team. She explained that the group has, under different names, participated in the Cape relay since its inception. This year's team has five survivors on it.
"All of us have been touched by cancer, one way or another," Biondi said, adding that it could have been a family member, a friend or the member. "We all know somebody, and it's all personal."
The team's theme is firefighters, and it will be joined by members of the Cape fire department.
"We're going to put out the fire - cancer," she said.
The team will have an antique firetruck on hand, along with several raffles.
"We will be giving rides to the kids for $2," Biondi said. "We're just going to have a good time."
The goal of Friends Again was to raise $2,500 for the American Cancer Society.
"We've surpassed that already," she said.
As of Thursday, the team had raised approximately $3,500 for the cause.
"My father had cancer, my aunt had cancer," Biondi said. "We feel like it's something we're doing to help with research, to help families that are going through the process."
According to Bisbe, the funds raised during Relay of Life help to support programs made available through the American Cancer Society. Some of the programs include rides for cancer patients to their treatments, wig donations and financial aid with lodging when patients have to travel for treatment.
"A lot of the programs here are put on by the American Cancer Society for us," he said.
Relay organizers encouraged the public to come out and support the fight.
"Cancer is one of those diseases that has touched everybody in some way, shape or form," Bisbe said. "There are so many ways to prevent it - this is kind of our way of giving back to the community."
He noted that research is pivotal in finding an end to cancer.
"We're trying to raise the funds to help find that ending," Bisbe said.
Mariner High School is at 701 N. Chiquita Blvd.
For more information on the Relay for Life of Cape Coral, visit: www.relayforlife.org.
The American Cancer Society office is at 4575 Via Royale, Suite 110, Fort Myers.
For more information, visit: www.cancer.org or call (239) 936-1113.