Communities fight back

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 5, 2008

By GRACE THORNTON / For the Reporter

Lots of Shelby County residents are geared up to fight back against cancer, and now they have several venues to choose from for doing it – all of which, according to Shelby Reid Gentile – involve a lot of fight and a lot of family fun.

Three Relay for Life events are slated to take place in Shelby County in the coming weeks. The first will be May 9 at Columbiana Sports Complex, the second May 16 at Oliver Park in Calera and the third June 20 at Pelham City Park. All events begin at 6 p.m. and last until 6 a.m. A prior event took place May 2 at Heardmont Park.

“You can be on a team and register to raise funds, or you can just show up and have a good time – it’s free family fun,” said Gentile, American Cancer Society development representative.

After an opening ceremony, cancer survivors will take the first lap, followed by the caregiver lap and then teams will begin to walk. Music, entertainment and inflatables for the children will also be a part of the night at each event.

And at the Calera event, a carnival atmosphere will provide games, face painting and a car show in addition to the live music and fun, Gentile said. “It’s a really, really good time, and all the money goes toward our mission – cancer research, service, advocacy and education.”

Some of the money raised goes to fund six researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Some will provide accommodations for cancer patients and their families at Hope Lodge, a hotel-like facility in Birmingham, and keep ACS’ toll-free helpline (1-800-ACS-2345) up and running.

And other funds will go toward the cost of various local cancer support groups, such as “Look Good, Feel Better,” a group designed to teach women battling cancer to use makeup in the best way for their looks and for their health.

“They need to learn how to make sure their makeup is sterile, among other things, and this helps them be healthy and look good, too. It’s a wonderful program,” Gentile said.

For more information about the events, call ACS at 879-2242. To learn more about Relay for Life, visit