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More than 900 members of the Carolina community will walk for 20 straight hours this weekend to raise money for the American Cancer Society during the Relay for Life.

Beginning at 6 p.m. on April 17 and ending at 1 p.m. on April 18, the overnight event at Fetzer Field is the signature fundraising activity for the American Cancer Society and serves as a celebration of Relay of Life of UNC-Chapel Hill’s yearlong efforts.

The participants will be organized into 126 teams and take turns lapping Belk Track.

“It’s people walking to symbolize that the fight never ends,” said Carolina Warburton, an event organizer. “People are fighting cancer every single day. …It’s a celebration of the lives that have been saved and of the lives that have been lost.”

A Luminaria Ceremony will be held at 9 p.m. on April 17 and will feature a guest speaker. The ceremony, which begins with the lighting of luminaries and a lap around the track, serves as a time to remember people who had died from cancer, those who currently have cancer and cancer survivors.

“The Luminaria Ceremony is for honoring those have survived and remembering those we’ve lost to cancer,” said Darrin Benjuema, co-director of the event. “It’s incredibly moving to see the luminaries light up the track as we walk a few laps under the stars.”

In addition to walking, the event will feature games, entertainment and food as teams continue to raise more money for the cause.

Since the event began in 1996, the Relay for Life at UNC has raised more than $150,000 each year with a majority of the money heading back to the UNC Hospitals.

“A majority of the money that we make comes right back here” Warburton said. “We raise money at UNC and it goes back to UNC.”

Click here to sign up for Relay for Life.

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published April 14, 2015