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Relay For Life thinks big, moves event to Road Atlanta
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Relay For Life

What: All-night fundraising event for the American Cancer Society

When: 7 p.m. June 5 to 7 a.m. June 6

Where: Road Atlanta in Braselton

Contact: To register as a team, a survivor or to make a donation, go to

The 2009 Relay For Life season has officially begun.

On Tuesday night, Relay For Life of Gainesville-Hall County held a kickoff dinner to inform all those interested in the event about the changes ahead for the 2009 relay.

Relay For Life is an overnight event designed to celebrate cancer survivors and raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times, according to the organization’s Web site.

One of the biggest changes is the location of this year’s relay.

Traditionally, Relay For Life is held on a high school football field with a track, but it will be at a bigger location this year.

"It’s going to be at Road Atlanta, which is different than our normal high school venue," said Vicki Pisell, a staff assistant for Relay For Life.

"They’ve kind of outgrown the high schools."

Though many charitable organizations are scaling back this year, Relay For Life is thinking long term by holding the event at a larger venue.

"You still have to plan for the future. We knew that we were at the capacity with the high schools," Pisell said. "You have to look ahead at the growth. Maybe it won’t be this year that we grow, it could be next year."

The kickoff event was the first of many meetings for relay teams that will take place up until the big event in June.

There also were awards presented to teams who excelled in different areas at last year’s relay.

"It’s a recognition and thank you for their hard work from last year," Pisell said.

This year, the Relay For Life of Gainesville-Hall County is aiming to raise $560,000, up from last year’s goal of $475,000.

The bar was raised after the 2008 relay surpassed its fundraising goal by collecting $561,711.

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