An upbeat crowd of about 30 team captains and mates gathered Monday night at Fuddruckers to kick off activity for the annual Relay for Life at Ridge Ferry Park.

While there’s still six months to go before the American Cancer Society’s April 17 ceremony at Ridge Ferry Park, there’s a lot of fundraising – and planning – to do.

It’s the 25th anniversary for the Floyd County event, which is now held jointly with chapters in Polk and Chattooga counties.

“We have 19 teams already, which is pretty awesome for the month of October,” said ACS organizer Haley Campbell. “But our big focus right now is getting more teams of survivors.”

Schools, businesses, churches, friends and families can form teams by signing up online at ga and pledging to raise at least $100. There’s a step-by-step guide online and Campbell said everyone’s invited to the monthly meetings.

“Share your fundraiser,” Yvonne Berg advised. “Get the information to Hayley and she’ll post it on our Facebook page.”

Sponsors are also urged to sign on, even if they don’t want to field a team. Parker Systems, Nina’s Share A Bear and Cevian Design are already on board and Miles Fabrication will be hosting the survivors’ dinner for the fifth year.

“It’s our way of giving back,” said Shelley Miles. “My father-in-law, my aunt – Nobody has a family that doesn’t have someone with cancer. It affects everyone.”

Campbell said relay volunteers will have a tent set up at the free community Truck or Treat event from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Halloween at Ridge Ferry Park. In addition to candy, they’ll be giving out cards with information on how to participate.

The fundraising activity culminates with the Relay – a celebration of survivors, empowerment of caregivers and remembrance of those who lost their lives to cancer.

The Dixie Stompers, Flamingoes, Redmond Rock Stars and Queen Beez were among the teams representing Monday night. So far, they’ve raised about $3,000 toward a goal of $75,000. The money goes for services for those facing cancer.

“Rides to treatments, a free wig program, a 1-800 number you can call for information about all kinds of resources,” Campbell said, referring to the free Cancer Helpline at 1-800-227-2345.

“And lodging,” she added. “We have Hope Lodges scattered around the community where a patient and caregiver can stay for free if they have to travel more than 60 miles.”

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