On the evening of Friday, June 12, 2009, volunteers from the American Cancer Society will be joining forces with residents of Clark, New Jersey and surrounding communities in reach of a goal that is common to nearly everyone: the goal is to eliminate the human suffering that is caused by cancer. 

Relay for Life of Clark is a 14-hour event that will take place at Arthur L Johnson High School, beginning at 6:00 p.m. and will continue throughout the night, ending at 8:00 a.m.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society's signature event. It is an overnight celebration of hope and survivorship. Teams camp out and take turns walking a track throughout the night, in honor of those who have fought cancer and in memory of those who are no longer with us.

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Last year, more than 4,600 communities held Relay For Life events, raising $375 million. Funds raised through Relay For Life support the lifesaving work of the American Cancer Society through research, education, advocacy and patient-family services.

It is a community event in every sense of the word. When you arrive, you may be surprised to find that Relay For Life is not your typical fundraising walk: it's a unique opportunity for all to make a serious difference in the fight against cancer, while having fun at the same time. It is a chance to remember and reflect on those who sadly lost their battle to cancer. Yet, at the same time, we honor and celebrate the lives of cancer survivors, who continue to live and fight each day with this disease.

A cancer diagnosis can certainly make the affected individual feel as though they are really alone. One amazing part of the "relay experience" is the opening ceremonies.

The walk begins with the "Survivor Celebration Lap". Witnessing this is a genuinely uplifting experience: seeing hundreds of survivors, united in this cause, proudly walking around the track together. The best part of all is that each survivor, when in the company of such an astounding number of fellow survivors, will no longer feel alone.

The most moving part of the evening is the Luminaria Ceremony, which takes place at nightfall. During this emotional ceremony, volunteers and participants light hundreds (sometimes thousands) of candles. The candles illuminate the perimeter of the track and guide us though the darkness during a "silent lap". We take this time to slow down for a moment - in respect for the Survivors walking among us, and to reflect on the lives of those who did not win the battle. It's amazing to see so many Luminaries burning bright - then realize that each and every single candle represents the life of someone close to home: a loved one, family member, neighbors, friends -- right in our community who have been individually touched by cancer.

The Ceremony represents the HOPE that we all share: that the day will come when cancer is completely eliminated. 

Everyone is welcome to participate in Relay For Life, but Cancer Survivors are our special guests. There is no registration fee for survivors (who are not on a team), but we ask that those who wish to participate in the Survivor Celebration Ceremony to pre-register beforehand, if possible.

Volunteers from the community are urgently needed to continue the fight against cancer. We are seeking new teams and team captains, as well as individual participants for everything from event planning to day-of-event set-up. A little of your time can make a HUGE difference in the fight against cancer!

For more information on Relay For Life of Clark, or the American Cancer Society, call 973-736-7771 ext. 2005 or visit www.relayforlife.org/clarknj  

Together, we will make a difference!