ALBANY -- Planning is underway for the city's 2014 Relay For Life event and volunteers are needed for key positions. The relay, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, is scheduled for May 17-18 at Cougar Field.

"We have a new staff person and she's very, very enthusiastic and we want to build a really great team," event Chairwoman Kim Denton said. "We're looking for survivors, we're looking for teams to sign up and we're looking for volunteers to help plan it."

Denton said the kickoff party is scheduled for Jan. 22 at Mechanics Bank, 801 San Pablo Ave. Volunteers are needed to lead several parts of the event, including survivor and caregiver chair, sponsorship chair, fundraising chair, team recruitment chair and luminaria chair. The nighttime luminaria ceremony honors survivors and those who lost their battle with cancer by placing bags with lit candles around the track. Names of survivors or victims of cancer are written on the bags.

Denton said a fundraising person would be most welcome as the local organization would like to hold more events during the year.

Volunteers should contact Denton at kim.denton.albanyrelay2014@gmail.com or go to the event's website at http://www.relayforlife.org/albanyca.

This is the third year for the Albany Relay For Life. Nationwide, the event dates back to 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt came up with the idea to raise money for the Tacoma, Wash., American Cancer Society office. Klatt spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound, covering 83 miles and raising $27,000. The national organization took over the event and promotes local versions all over the country.

The idea behind a 24-hour walk is that cancer never sleeps.

All funds raised by the relay go to the American Cancer Society to fight all types of cancer, rather than focus in on a single type. The money goes to research, education, advocacy and services.

Denton pointed out that cancer touches everybody. This year, cancer took the life of former Assistant City Manager Judy Lieberman and former Mayor Jewel Okawachi.

---