ALVARADO — Relay For Life of Midlothian was tucked safely out of the weather at Diamond W Arena Complex in Alvarado on Friday night.

This was the second consecutive year the event had to be moved from Don Floyd Field to an indoor venue. There were 408 participants making up 33 teams for this year’s Relay to celebrate the struggles and victories of cancer survivors and the lives of those whose valiant battles were lost to the disease. Felest Ingersoll, chairperson, said their goal was to raise $90,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Happily for attendees, the temperature dropped as showers passed through late in the afternoon, creating a comfortable climate inside the metal enclosure.

“About 3 p.m. Thursday we looked at the weather and made our decision. We started calling everywhere to see who could house the event,” Ingersoll said. “The use of this facility was donated by Lisa McCool. We are thankful Midlothian came the extra distance.”

At 6 p.m. the call went out for survivors and caregivers to take their seats for dinner in their honor as walkers clad in colorful team T-shirts continued to stream in carrying tables, chairs, ice chests and even tents to sustain them through the 12-hour event.

To kick off the event, Ingersoll welcomed participants and thanked everyone for their support a hope for a cure for cancer. Opening ceremonies included presentation of colors and the state and U.S. pledges by Boy Scout Troop 785 from Duncanville. Pastor Gary Morgan, pastor of the Ellis County Cowboy Church, gave the invocation.

“The moment I walked in here there was so much energy and so much hope,” Tamara Jolee Metcalfe, grand marshal, said. “My hometown may have a funny name, but we have wonderful people. Each of us here are all affected by cancer in some way – I applaud you.”

Mayor Boyce Whatley also welcomed participants and served as the announcer for the Misster Relay competition.

“I usually say ‘Welcome to Midlothian,’ but I guess I can say ‘Welcome to Alvarado, Midlothian.’ We always get a great group out to support cancer research,” Whatley said. “Have a great night, have fun and be safe. Thank you for being here.”

The opening lap was reserved for survivors. Clad in purple T-shirts they made their way around the arena floor and were followed by the teams carrying banners and photos of loved ones to be remembered.

After dark the luminaries lined the walkway. The candles emitted a golden glow as attendees observed a few moments of silence before rounding the path to honor those whose lives have been affected by the disease and to remember the lives lost.

The evening was filled with activities including performances by the MHS Pantherettes and non-stop music provided by DJ, Aaron Ingersoll, who is a cancer survivor. There was a silent auction and the popular Misster Relay contest where a male member from each team has to dress up as a woman and solicit donations from the crowd. Activities, entertainment and games were planned throughout the night and into the early hours of Saturday morning.

“Without everyone here, Relay For Life wouldn’t be possible. Survivors, without you we wouldn’t be having this (event),” Mark Bradford, American Cancer Society representative, said. “Thank you to the committee – we couldn’t have done it without you.”

Through team fundraising events and donations the Midlothian Relay had raised more than $68,000 before the start of the event to donate to the American Cancer Society.

Relay began in 1985 with one man’s quest to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, it has grown from a single into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States participate to raise funds to save lives from cancer.

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.