Salem and Derry/Londonderry Relays for Life kick off tomorrow to raise money for the American Cancer Society and its fight against the disease.

In Salem, the event will be held at Grant Field at Salem High School from 4 p.m. tomorrow until noon Saturday.

Derry/Londonderry's event will be at the Pinkerton Academy track in Derry, starting at 6 p.m. tomorrow and ending at noon Saturday.

At Relay Salem, teams of people camp out on Grant Field at Salem High School 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. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events.

Both events start with a Survivors Lap, when cancer survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories achieved over cancer. The Survivors Lap is an emotional example of how Relay participants are creating a world with more birthdays like those of each individual on the track.

After dark, participants honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence.

Last, there is a Fight Back Ceremony, where participants make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer.

Seventy-nine teams have signed up to participate in the 2011 Greater Derry and Londonderry Relay For Life.

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, they 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.

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, Salem Relay for Life

When: In Derry, 6 p.m. tomorrow to noon Saturday; in Salem, 4 p.m. tomorrow to noon Saturday

Where: Pinkerton Academy track in Derry and Grant Field at Salem High School

More information: Visit main.acsevents.org/site/TR/RelayForLife

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