American Cancer Society Celebrates \"The Biggest Birthday Party in Boone County\"

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COLUMBIA - The American Cancer Society kicked off "The Biggest Birthday Party in Boone County" to celebrate the society turning 100 years old earlier this month. The Boone County Relay for Life was supposed to be held outside of the Columbia Mall in the parking lot near the fountain court, but the whole event had to be moved inside the mall due to the heavy rain.

"A lot of people don't know but we start planning for the event in September, so when we got notification about a week out that we were going to have to change everything we had planned it got a little stressful," American Cancer Society staff partner Jessica Ellison said.

The goal is to raise $170,000 for cancer research, and at 6:30 p.m. they had reached $66,000. All of the proceeds from the event will go to the American Cancer Society.

The evening began with the opening ceremony where members of the American Cancer Society thanked everyone for coming out, and then a cancer survivor gave a speech.

There are more than 500 participants and 43 teams. Members of each team will walk continuously until 6 a.m. Saturday.

The relay began with a lap by the survivors and the next lap was taken by the caregivers. For some, this is a new beginning.

"I feel like I have to give back," cancer survivor Timothy McGinnis said. "I am 44 years old and it is time for me to stop taking from society and give back to society.  I would tell others to just hold on and hope, because all you really have is hope."

Throughout the evening there will be games, food, and music. Then, at 9:30 p.m. the luminaria ceremony will start. There are three types of luminarias: in honor of those who have survived,  in memory of those who have passed away, and in thanks of those who helped care for the cancer patients.

The luminarias will be held down with food, and all of that food will be donated to the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

To donate to the American Cancer Society visit its website