Relay for Life is an annual community fundraising walk at the Wilton High School track, to benefit the American Cancer Society. Starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 29 and running through the night until sunrise on Saturday morning, May 30, the Wilton community will gather for a night of celebration to recognize those who have battled cancer, remember lost loved ones, and take action to fundraise and help finish the fight once and for all.

This year’s honorary chair is Kennedy Snyder, a freshman at Wilton High School and a cancer survivor, who was diagnosed at a very young age. An opening ceremony starts off the night, followed by a survivors lap to recognize and honor all the participating cancer survivors. Emotions run high as they take the night’s first lap, as everyone cheers them on to celebrate their victory over cancer.

The survivors are followed by the “Super Heroes,” as those who have cared for someone with cancer take a lap to be honored for their hard work as caregivers to those in the cancer fight. Most emotional of all is the Luminaria ceremony, as candles are lit to remember those lost to cancer, to offer support to people currently battling cancer, and honor people who have defeated it. Always very powerful, this ceremony provides an opportunity for people to work through grief and find hope.

At 11:30 p.m. the Spirit of Relay Ceremony celebrates event participants head home for the evening–but the night won’t be over until 5 a.m. for those who choose to stay overnight. They’ll continue to walk the track as well as take part in many fun activities, including a scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, Zumba, musical chairs, a movie, a massive rock paper scissor shoot competition, and a morning dance-a-thon and group yoga class.

Relay For Life organizers are launching a new event during the festivities that they’ve dubbed “Mr. Relay.” Eight high school boys will dress up in beauty pageant attire and will walk around the track collecting money for the fundraiser. Whoever raises the most money, will be crowned the’ winner.’

WHS senior Kendall Keough has been a Relay for Life team captain for nine years, and a committee member for five. “Being a part of Relay for Life makes me feel like I am doing something important–fighting cancer,” she says. She’s not alone; the Wilton Relay for Life has evolved into one that has a large student base of support that isn’t typical of Relay for Life walks held by other towns. “In Wilton, the students in the community have become involved and made teams which they have continued to do every year because it is such a great event and they know the value of helping the community,” Keough says.

The event does get a lot of support from the wider community, of course, as residents and businesses contribute both money and support in other ways. One local business that participates every year is the Open House Gift Shop, which not only furnishes a team made up of employees and friends, but they also host an Annual Relay for Life Shopping Day on Thursday, May 28th. A percentage of the day’s proceeds will be donated to Relay For Life. To encourage more shoppers to take part, they’re offering an opportunity to win prizes to anyone who spends $50 or more. Open House Gift Shop is located at 9 Center St..