Harlem's Relay for Life committee began the three-month fundraising season with a nautical and tropical atmosphere at a kickoff celebration Jan. 19.
This year's relay, Harlem's fifth, is scheduled for April 21-22 at Harlem Middle School.
"The theme is Cruisin' for a Cure, and I think we're going to have a lot of fun with that," said Julie Miller, the event chairwoman.
Volunteers played games, including the Crazy Flip-Flop Contest, in which participants designed a pair of flip-flops with an inspirational message relating to the American Cancer Society or the relay.
CarolAnn Webster, a volunteer on a relay team formed at Harlem High School, designed a pair of flip-flops of pink, representing breast cancer, with pearl and gold embellishments.
"Going through what you go through when you go through cancer, I guess sometimes we forget about ourselves and how beautiful we really are," Webster said. "So you get lost in the treatments, the ordeal of going through cancer. This (pair of flip-flops) is just to remind ourselves how beautiful were are. How sophisticated we are."
In addition to games, captains and their teams were prepared for the fundraising with information packets and supplies.
"I'm really excited about this this year," said Miller, a first-time chairwoman of the event. "Last year was my first relay, and I'm really amazed and in awe of all the work this community did. It was truly an awesome undertaking and a lot of fun, too.
'I hope we'll have at least as much fun this year and raise a whole lot of money for a worthy cause."
The relay has raised nearly $190,000 in its four years with more than $60,000 raised in 2005, the highest year yet.
Miller said she hopes to set a new record.
"Our goal this year is to raise $65,000, to have 15 teams and 100 survivors," Miller told the volunteers at the kickoff event.
"So we've got our work cut out for us, but I'm sure that we can do it. I know with this group here tonight, I am sure we can."
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