If you ever needed a good reason to get out and take a walk, the 2010 Relay for Life will surely do.
Beginning this afternoon at 1 p.m. and continuing through 1 p.m. Saturday around the Houghton High School track, the Copper Country community will gather for a long walk - a walk of joy, a walk of hope, a walk of remembrance.
Thirty-one teams have signed up to participate. Some will camp out all night. Each team is charged with having at least one member walking the track at all times, walking that ring of lit luminaria honoring and remembering those who have battled cancer.
"We have lots of people come out from the community to walk with us for a while," said Kathy Archambeau, who has been involved in the Copper Country's Relay for Life each of its 15 years. "You don't have to be a member of a team to participate. Any time's a good time."
There will be music, food and games all along the way, but the ceremonies between 6 and 10 p.m. are a big draw, according to Archambeau, sometimes drawing as many as 2,500 people.
"There's a Victory Ceremony for cancer survivors, a Caregiver's Lap and a Patriot's Lap, dedicated to our military, police and first responders," Archambeau said.
The Lap of Hope will be dedicated to the memory of Carl Mattila, who lost his battle to cancer last year. He and his family have been involved in Relay for Life for years, according to Archambeau.
"It's been like a family reunion for them, with as many as a 100 there," she said. "This year, they will lead the Lap of Hope and we will join in behind them."
Perhaps the best time to walk around the track is late at night when the candles burn their brightest. The luminaria are each available for a $10 donation. Many read the names of those who have been affected by cancer.
Some people walk in groups, while others walk alone.
"It's so uplifting and encouraging," said Archambeau. "Especially to those who have just been diagnosed with cancer and to those who have lost someone to cancer."
Proceeds from the event go to the American Cancer Society and total $80,500 this year, so far. While they've raised as much as $155,000 one year, Archambeau said they don't have a monetary goal.
"Our only goal is to support," she said.
So, support it is. Lace up those walking shoes, get out and share this great annual community event of joy, hope and remembrance.