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People of all ages and from all over the region will join the annual Relay For Life Friday evening at Pinkerton Academy’s track. Last year’s event, shown here, drew a big crowd.

Seventy-nine teams have signed up to participate in the 2011 Greater Derry and Londonderry Relay For Life, which begins Friday night at the Pinkerton Academy track.

The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is the organization's signature event. It gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease.

During the 18-hour event, teams of people camp out and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event.

The goal of the Derry/Londonderry Relay event is to raise $200,000, said Brigit Ryan, community executive of development.

"So, far we've raised $85,000," she said last week. "But we often get most of the donations the day of the event."

Even if someone is not part of a registered team, he or she can still stop by the event, which ends Saturday at noon.

"Some people like to come and check out the event," Ryan said. "Many will often form their own teams for the following year."

Many teams will be offering goods for sale that will also go toward the teams' fundraising efforts.

"There will be jewelry, magnets, glow-in-the-dark items, basket drawings, face-painting, massages and more," Ryan said.

While there are many theme laps throughout the night, like a Trick or Treat lap or Pajama Lap, there are two very poignant laps each year. The first is the Survivors' Lap that takes place during the opening ceremonies. Ryan is expecting at least 120 area survivors to join.

The second is the silent lap after luminaria are lit around the track at dusk, in honor of those battling cancer or in memory those who have died from the disease.

This year's honorary chairman is Andy Mack Jr., who will speak during opening ceremonies. Music and entertainment throughout the event will be provided by Mike Morin of WZID.

The top three fundraising teams to date are Team Golden Brook from Windham, Team Foskitt from Chester and Derry, and Survivors Rule from Londonderry.

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Join the fight

What: Greater Derry and Londonderry Relay for Life

When: 6 p.m. June 24 to noon June 25

Where: Pinkerton Academy track

More information: Call Brigit Ryan at 471-4133, or visit main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife and enter 03038 in the zip code box.

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