Relay for Life weekend: 'There's no place like hope' is 2007 theme

By Lynn R. Parks

Dena King does not hesitate to encourage people to attend the Western Sussex Relay for Life, an annual fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society. "Just come," she tells anyone who asks. "Just be there. It is a wonderful place to be. You can feel it as soon as you get there." King, Seaford, is a volunteer for the annual relay, during which volunteers walk laps around a track to raise money. She and her husband, Aaron, are building giant red ruby slippers to put around the walking track for this year's relay, set for Friday night at the Mears Campus of Nanticoke Health Services. The theme of this year's relay is, "There's no place like hope," a play on Dorothy's refrain in the "Wizard of Oz," "There's no place like home." Dorothy, of course, found magic in her red ruby slippers. King first became involved in the relay in 2005, when her father, Jack Palen, Fallston, Md., was dying of cancer. "My dad was very sick, and I couldn't be at the relay that first year, but I went to the survivor's dinner," she said. The survivor's dinner is traditionally held the night before the relay. Palen died in September 2005. "Right after that, I jumped right into the relay," King said. "I never realized how many people around here had been affected by cancer. And I met some wonderful people. It's really a community–we pray for each other, we ask about doctor's visits. And when something does happen, we support each other." Last year, King's brother, John Jr., also of Fallston, attended the relay. "He was just 18 when our dad died, and it was very hard for him," she said. "But at the relay, he was able to realize that we aren't the only family going through this. And everyone there is so supportive–I think it helped him a lot." King expects her brother to attend the relay again this year. Mary Catherine Hopkins, Bethel, is the long-time chairwoman of the relay. While both her father and father-in-law died of cancer, she said that she is looking toward the future when she works to raise money for the American Cancer Society. "I do not want my grandchildren to have to worry about getting cancer," she said. "They have too much to offer the world." The fund-raising goal of this year's relay is $163,000. Hopkins said that contributors, many of them corporations, have already donated more than $86,000. The relay's outdoor track will be set up in the Mears Campus parking lot. A stage will be set up along the walkway that connects the two buildings at the Mears Campus. Volunteers will be able to set up camp in the parking lot or on the lawn. There will also be two large tents set up, one to accommodate the silent auction and the other for survivors of cancer. At the survivors' reception Thursday, May 17, each survivor will be given a luminary, a small brown bag and a candle, to decorate for the relay's luminary ceremony. "The luminary ceremony gives folks a chance to remember√Čand honor those who have been affected by cancer," Hopkins said. "It's also a solemn time to remember those who didn't make it." The survivors will also get parking passes, enabling them to park in the Mears Campus lot. Additional parking will be available at the Seaford Post Office and at Trinity Transport. Volunteers with the Seaford Kiwanis Club will be on hand to direct people to parking.
For your information:
The Western Sussex Relay for Life will be the evening of May 18 and the morning of May 19 at the Nanticoke Health Services' Mears Campus, Bridgeville Highway, Seaford. Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society. To volunteer to help or to participate, call chairwoman Mary Catherine Hopkins, 875-7308. She is also available by e-mail, HYPERLINK "" For information about the relay, visit the website,

Schedule of events
May 18
4 p.m. - registration opens
6 p.m. - opening ceremony with master of ceremonies Tom Chapman; survivor's lap; caregiver's lap
7 p.m. - Parade of teams lap; bingo and children's games
8 p.m. - Welcome to Munchkinland lap; campsite judging; entertainment with Barren Creek Band
9 p.m. - luminary ceremony; honor/memory lap
10 p.m. - Yellow Brick Road to Recovery lap and race
11 p.m. - Monkey See, Monkey Do lap and pizza party
Midnight - Are you a Good Witch or a Bad Witch lap
May 19
1 a.m. - impersonation lap
2 a.m. - 30-second skit or song lap
3 a.m. - We're Off to See the Wizard lap
4 a.m. - You're Getting Sleepy lap
5 a.m. - The Emerald City lap
6 a.m. Somewhere Over the Rainbow lap
7 a.m. - Ruby Slippers lap
8 a.m. - There's No Place Like Hope lap
9 a.m. - breakfast and closing ceremony

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