CHAMPAIGN — About 1,000 people are expected to walk in Relay for Life Champaign County starting Saturday evening.
Registrations to participate in this annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society are nearly double over last year's event, said Jill Rannebarger, local relay chairwoman.
Rannebarger said 102 teams with 812 participants have signed up online, and she's projecting about 1,000 total participants, counting written registrations.
It's still not to late to register, she said.
"Up until the start, you can sign up as a team," she said.
People are also welcome to come and walk on the track and take part in the activities, Rannebarger said.
"A lot of people just stopping by would just be wonderful," she said.
There will be plenty for everyone — kids and adults alike — to do, with food, entertainment and activities planned throughout the night, according to the cancer society.
Relay for Life, being held at Centennial High School, 913 S. Crescent Drive, C, officially starts with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Saturday.
But families can come earlier for kids' activities.
From 4 to 8:30 p.m., there will be a kids' area open that will be staffed by the Sadorus All Stars 4-H Club. It will include inflatables, carnival games, a mini relay, bowling, board games, face painting and craft activities.
Coco the Colossal Colon, a 40-foot-long, 4-foot-tall model of the human colon, will be on hand as an educational tool about colorectal cancer and diseases of the colon.
At 8:30 p.m., there will be movies shown on a big screen, followed by the luminaria ceremony at 9 p.m. and a fight-back rally at 9:30 p.m.
A teen area with refreshments and Wii competitions will be open from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., and the closing ceremony will be held at 6 a.m. Sunday.
The luminaria ceremony is held to honor and remember loved ones with cancer, and the luminaria that line the track burn throughout the night. Luminaria are available to buy for $10 each.
The fight-back rally, intended to be an empowering event, will feature cancer researcher and survivor Brendan Harley and WCIA-TV 3 news anchor Dave Benton.
American Cancer Society spokeswoman Shayne Squires said participation in Relay for Life is individual to each community's event. Champaign County's event is drawing a lot of participation due to the efforts that have been made in the area to let people know the money raised supports not only cancer research but services for local cancer patients, such as rides to treatments and help finding medications, she said.
This year's fundraising goal for Relay for Life Champaign County is $200,000, and if that goal is reached, relay events in Champaign County will have raised $3 million in all since the first one was held in 1995, according to the cancer society.
To register for Relay for Life, see the Web site: http://www.relayforlife.org/champaignil.