Relay `11 on track, will bring fireworks, Colts player, more

Culver’s Relay for Life will return for a fourth year, and organizers -- adult and student alike -- are hoping to continue the momentum from the first three events, which surpassed many expectations to raise more than $100,000 each year and place Culver on the map as one of the few school-hosted locations for the cancer-fighting event in the entire country. The success of past Relays has also drawn attention for the fact that much of the organizing, planning, and execution of the event is student-led. Past events have been remarkable, too, for their ability to unify the diverse communities of the area towards a common goal.
This year’s Relay will kick off at 7 p.m., with the opening ceremony, Friday, April 15, at the Culver Academies football field at the intersection of State Roads 10 and 17. As in years past, the all-night event centers around fund-raising teams walking laps throughout the night -- symbolic of cancer never resting -- coupled with ongoing activities and events to raise awareness about the disease, honor victims and survivors of cancer, and keep teams motivated to continue their journey.
Funds raised, as always, go to the American Cancer Society to aid in its ongoing fight against the disease and support of victims and their families.
Relay 2011 Co-Chair and Culver Academies senior Kyle Blankenship says this year’s Relay is “panning out to be better than ever before!
“So far, we are doing very well number wise. At this point, we have 58 teams and over $30,000 raised online, along with an additional $40,000 in sponsorship. This is very good, compared to where we were at this point last year. We’re hoping to keep up the momentum so that we can reach our goal of $130,000.”
Blankenship says organizers encourage online participant registration and fundraising, which can be done at
Fair Oaks Farms in Fair Oaks, Indiana is once again the event sponsor, he notes, and two-time cancer survivor Paqui Kelly, wife of Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly, will visit the Academies on April 13 “to speak with students about her experience with cancer and to rev everyone up for Relay. Her story is truly inspirational, and we are ecstatic to have her. She also has headed up the Kelly Cares Foundation, another foundation dedicated to raising money for cancer.”
And as has been the case for the past two years, a player from multiple Super Bowl winning NFL football team the Indianapolis Colts will be in town for the Relay on April 15, though as yet his name hasn’t been announced.
Another new feature is the presence of Mad Bomber Firework Productions, which will add a fireworks show to the evening’s entertainment.
Also as in years past, Culver Coffee Company on Lake Shore Drive is joining other local businesses in helping raise money by donating proceeds from its Drink of the Month for April to the Relay. Further, for the first two weeks of April, $1 from every pizza purchased at the Coffee Company will also go to Relay.
This year’s Relay will include the core features of years past, as well as some “to be announced” new additions. Back will be the somber but powerful luminaria lap of the event, during which lights are extinguished and luminaria bags dedicated to a cancer victim provide the only lighting through this silent lap. Area cancer survivors will once again be featured speakers during the evening, which will also include a number of themed laps. Live music will abound, as will games, food, and of course the ever-popular “Mr. Relay” portion of the evening, in which male participants are encouraged to don dresses (or feminine attire of their choosing) and outdo each other in raising funds towards the Relay goal.