Midlothian Relay For Life held their kickoff Saturday with volunteers signing up for a variety of committees and posts.

Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s largest community fundraiser and this year’s event will be held in Midlothian on Friday night May 16-17 at Walnut Grove Middle School.

“The theme is Party For Life and we are urging people to mark their calendars now for this event,” said Molly Rutty, Relay coordinator for the American Cancer Society. “We are busy signing up teams to walk and we are also looking for leaders to head up some key positions.”

Relay For Life is an overnight community celebration where individuals and teams camp-out, barbecue, dance and take turns walking around a track relay-style to raise funds to fight cancer. At nightfall, participants will light hundreds of Luminaria around the track in a moving ceremony to honor cancer survivors, as well as friends and family members lost to the disease.

“New this year is a ‘Fight Back Ceremony,’ where people say how they are going to fight cancer in the upcoming year,” said Rutty. “They may pledge to host a Relay walking team next year, they may decide to eat healthier or they may decide to quit smoking.

“We have three phrases or goals for every Relay event,” Rutty said. “We want to celebrate, we want to remember and we want to fight back.”

Relay For Life is a community event that honors cancer survivors, current cancer patients and caregivers.

Relay also pays tribute to those who have lost their battle with cancer.

Individuals, churches, civic groups and businesses usually round up a team of between 8 and 15 people. The team is charged with soliciting donations that are used to fight cancer.

Anyone wanting information about forming a team is asked to contact Shelia Lock at 972-723-6210.

The Relay For Life is an opportunity for the community to come together and learn more about combating cancer.

Rutty said they have already signed up 18 teams to walk and have a goal of 60. She said Midlothian Relay For Life has already received a $15,000 donation from Ash Grove Cement.

“We are also looking for a chairmen or two co-chairmen for this year’s event,” said Rutty. “I want to remind people the American Cancer Society stand behind its volunteers and we can train people for just about any job.”

Rutty said they are looking for someone with a passion for fighting cancer.

“We all know someone who has had this disease,” said Rutty. “We are winning the war against cancer and it’s because of events like Relay For Life that we are finding cures and preventing cancer.”

Rutty said anyone wanting to staff a committee or chair this year’s event is asked to contact her at 972-795-0815.

Rutty said Relay’s next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. March 11 at Citizens National Bank on Ninth Street.

Last year Midlothian Relay For Life raised $160,000 for cancer research, education and advocacy.

The American Cancer Society estimates there will be 85,570 new cases of cancer diagnosed in Texas this year. Nationally more than 1,399,790 cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2008.

About 76 percent of all cancers are diagnosed in persons 55 and older.

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer accounts for one of every four deaths in this country.