Now, Relay For Life of the Tri Counties is getting ready for their largest fundraiser of the year this May. Held at Big Surf on May 31, this event celebrates cancer survivors and provides hope to those still fighting the disease.

You may notice a big change coming to the way Relay For Life organizes events at Lake of the Ozarks this year. 

Last fall, Camden County Relay For Life presented the idea of combining forces with Miller and Morgan County into a merged event after experiencing declining involvement over the years. 

Now, Relay For Life of the Tri Counties is getting ready for their largest fundraiser of the year this May. Held at Big Surf on May 31, this event celebrates cancer survivors and provides hope to those still fighting the disease. 

The theme is “Lights, Camera, Cure!” One of the highlights is the luminaria ceremony. The ceremony of light symbolizes the hope and perseverance with which they continue to fight. By making a luminaria donation of $5, you can dedicate a luminaria in memory of someone lost to cancer, honor someone still fighting or who has beaten the disease. Elementary students from across the three counties will be decorating the luminaria bags which are set afloat and illuminated on the Lazy River as part of the ceremonies during relay. 

Money raised during the Relay For Life benefits the American Cancer Society. 

These funds support cancer research, patient support programs, as well as cancer prevention, education, and screening campaigns. 

According to Seth Freeman, senior community development manager overseeing the merger of the events, they expect several hundred participants to come together at Big Surf on May 31. This local event helps support people in the area who are battling cancer. 

Freeman said last year, residents from the tri-county area spent 242 nights at one of American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodges (in either St. Louis or Kansas City), free of charge. That is an estimated savings of over $24,000. Additionally, another 100 patients received services (information, referrals, etc) from the American Cancer Society. Finally, 24 patients received a free wig and other head covers (wraps, turbans, caps) at no charge. Since its inception in 1985, the Relay For Life movement has raised over $6 billion.

For more information, go to www.relayforlife.org/tricountiesomo.

Upcoming events

• Tri County Relay for Life, May 31 from 6-10 p.m. at Big Surf Waterpark.

Little Miss/Little Mister & Little Prince/Princess contests winners crowned at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Pam Sharp at grammypam1632@gmail.com or text 913-544-5333.

• Bark for Life, June 15 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Laurie Fairgrounds. Enter your four-legged pooch to compete in a number of categories: owner/pet look-a-like, obstacle course, friendliest, high-maintenance, best bark, best trick, ugliest, best dressed and many others. 

Entry fee is $20 per dog. Registration begins at 9 a.m., followed by opening ceremonies and a parade at 10 a.m. For more information, email seth.freeman@cancer.org.