Hundreds of Hope College students have signed on for the fourth-annual, student-organized "Relay For Life" against cancer, taking place in the college's Pine Grove beginning Friday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m.
The public is invited to watch, and all cancer survivors and their families are invited to participate in the opening activities. Admission is free.
The relay, in which teams of students will walk a circuit around the college's Pine Grove in the central campus for 12 hours as a benefit for the American Cancer Society, will begin with an opening ceremony at 7 p.m. In addition to remarks by invited speakers, the opening will feature a ceremonial walk of the relay course by all cancer survivors and their families who wish to participate.
"We definitely invite cancer survivors from the Hope community or the Holland community to walk," said Evelyn Daniel, a Hope junior from Dearborn who is the relay's chairperson. "They can either contact the Holland American Cancer Society office or they can just show up."
A reception for the survivors and families will be held immediately following the opening.
Other scheduled activities during the relay include a "Luminaria" candlelight
service on Friday, Oct. 20, at 10 p.m. that will honor cancer survivors as well as those lost to the disease, and a closing ceremony on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 6:45 a.m. that will include an announcement of the total raised through the event.
Throughout, more than 30 student teams will field walkers, with each keeping at least one walker on the central-campus course at all times. The teams have been formed by the college's fraternities and sororities; by multiple other student organizations; by residence halls; and even simply by groups of friends. While some members of the teams are walking, others stay on-site in solidarity, some even pitching tents or bringing along furniture or small electronics to the wooded site, according to Daniel.
The students have been raising funds in anticipation of the 12-hour relay. Last year, some 300 students participated, raising more than $34,000. More than 450 students have signed up for this year's event.
Locally organized "Relay For Life" events take place across the nation on behalf of the American Cancer Society, with more than three million Americans participating annually. The first relay was held in Tacoma, Wash., in 1986, inspired by the example of surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt, who in 1985 walked and ran a track for 24 hours as a way to raise money to fight cancer.
The Pine Grove is located in the central Hope campus, south of 10th Street and east of College Avenue. More information about the Hope relay may be found online at: www.acsevents.org/relay/mi/hope 
In the event of rain, the Hope event will be held at the college's Dow Center, located on 13th Street at Columbia Avenue.