Relay For Life of Franklin County looks to raise $100K for cancer research in 29th year

The Relay For Life of Franklin County Survivor’s Lap, pictured in 2022 at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. The annual event returns Friday and Saturday.

The Relay For Life of Franklin County Survivor’s Lap, pictured in 2022 at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Greenfield. The annual event returns Friday and Saturday. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

By ADA DENENFELD KELLY

For the Recorder

Published: 06-13-2024 4:14 PM

GREENFIELD — Twenty-three years ago, Janet Seredejko’s aunt Marilyn O’Brien started a team to participate in the annual Relay For Life of Franklin County.

Though O’Brien has since died from cancer, her family has continued the team, called the Johnson Clan, to raise money for the American Cancer Society’s life-saving cancer research and programs.

“So many of my family and friends have been touched by cancer, have either passed away or are fighting the fight right now or are a survivor of cancer,” said Seredejko, who is leading public relations for the Franklin County event for the first time this year. “I think it’s just so important that we get together as a community to fight this fight.”

This year’s Relay For Life, the 29th annual, will be held at the Franklin County Fairgrounds on Wisdom Way starting on Friday, June 14, at 5 p.m. and will continue until Saturday, June 15, at 1 p.m.

The theme is “Sending Cancer to Neverland,” so the event will feature themed laps that participants can dress up for, such as the Lost Boy’s Lap and the Captain’s Lap. Some attendees will also decorate their tents in accordance with the theme. The event will also feature children’s activities, food, music, a raffle and cancer prevention information.

Relay For Life has its roots back in 1985, when Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Nearly four decades later, Relay For Life events with the same model are held across the country.

One of Seredejko’s favorite parts of the event is the Survivor’s Lap, which will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday.

“All the survivors gather around the track and they walk the track, and everybody that’s up at the relay pauses and claps the whole while they’re going around,” Seredejko said. “And that’s one of the most moving things for me about the relay — just to see how many people are fighting the battle and how courageous they are.”

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Last year’s Relay For Life of Franklin County raised $92,000 toward its $100,000 goal. Participants have already raised more than $57,000 toward the same goal this year, according to the event’s fundraising page.

“There’s been so many positive things coming out of cancer research,” Seredejko said, speaking to what the funding supports, “and I think that we just need to keep fighting to celebrate the survivors and honor and remember those we have lost to cancer.”

For more information, visit tinyurl.com/RelayForLifeFC2024.