For Laura Smuck, Relay For Life is about family.
This weekend marks her fifth year participating in the American Cancer Society's signature fundraising walk.
Smuck first got involved in a church team when her father-in-law was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, she said. Then in November 2010, Smuck said her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer — and months later was diagnosed with head and neck cancer, now known as squamous cell carcinoma.
So the Manchester Township resident made her own team.
The warriors: In honor of her Irish family, Smuck said the team's name is An Laochra, which means "The Warriors" in Gaelic. It has raised about $2,700 this year in honor of her father, who is now 77 and has been undergoing radiation treatments for the last four years, she said.
"We're helping him fight the fight and making him a warrior," said Smuck, 45. "He's always been a strong person ... And he never once has said 'Why me?'"
Smuck said she's now in her second year as a Relay committee member, and her son Hunter Einsig, 17, has joined her as a participant and chairperson for as long as she's been involved.
"I'm anxious to get started — we have a ball," she said.
Smuck said her favorite part of Relay is the lighting of the luminarias and the lap in silence in honor of those who have lost their lives to cancer — two somber events.
"The first year we did it, I bawled the whole time," she said.
The events: The 20th annual Relay For Life of York is set for this Friday and Saturday at York County School of Technology, and the seventh annual Southern York County Relay is set for the same dates at Shrewsbury Elementary School.
About 630 participants are signed up for the York Relay — and about 80 registration forms are still processing, said Richelle Horn, Relay specialist at the Cancer Society's York office.
"We're right on track for 900 participants," she said. "That's our goal."
Teams have raised more than $164,000, with a fundraising goal of $185,000, Horn said.
"And I think we'll get there."
For the Southern York Relay, about 206 participants have raised more than $37,500. That's already more participants than last year, and the fundraising is on track to beat last year's figure of $43,000, Horn said.
Participants are welcome to register before Friday's events, and there is a $10 suggested donation to walk, she said.
The York event runs from 1 p.m. Friday to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and the Shrewsbury event runs from 4 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday.
For those who want to stop by and show support, there will be games, raffles, auctions, prizes, food vendors, a scavenger hunt and kids' activities, Horn said. There will also be DJs and live music at both events, she said.
All of the money raised goes back to the Cancer Society in its efforts to fight cancer, Horn said.
— Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Relay events in York
Two York cancer-fighting events will kick off on Friday.
The 20th annual Relay For Life of York will run from 1 p.m. Friday to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at York County School of Technology, 2179 S. Queen St. in York Township.
The seventh annual Southern York County Relay is set for 4 p.m. Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday at Shrewsbury Elementary School, 331 S Main St. in Shrewsbury.
The fundraising events will feature games, raffles, auctions, prizes, food vendors, a scavenger hunt and kids' activities. There will also be DJs and live music at both events.
Participants can register for the walk at relayforlife.org or on Friday at either location for a $10 suggested donation. All of the money raised goes to the American Cancer Society.