NILES – The annual Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life takes place this Saturday at the Apple Festival grounds on the city’s east side. This is the second year for the Apple Festival grounds to host the event.

American Cancer Society senior community development manager Janet Wartman said this year’s goal is to raise $35,000 to help fund American Cancer Society programs and research. Last year’s Relay event raised nearly $33,000. This is the 22nd year that the Niles area has hosted a relay event.

Wartman said this year’s Relay for Life event will start at 12 p.m. noon Saturday with the opening ceremony followed by the survivors’ lap. A survivor/caregiver ceremony is set for 5 p.m. followed by a survivor dinner at 5:30 p.m. The annual luminaria ceremony honoring those who have died will be held at 10 p.m.

As has been the case the last few years, the event runs to midnight that night. This year’s theme is “Wipe Out Cancer” and 16 teams have signed up. She said about 65 participants have signed up already with as many as 100 to 150 expected to come the day of the event.

This year, Cass County residents are invited to join the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life as there is no Cass County event on the schedule. The Niles-Buchanan event is one of two held each year in Berrien County. The Berrien County Relay for Life was held in late June in St. Joseph.

A number of fundraising events have already taken place this year. Volunteers hosted a murder mystery dinner as well as the first annual “Colors of Cancer” Run earlier this year.

People can learn more about the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life at the website. Each year, more than 2,500 Relay events are held around the country to support and celebrate survivors and caregivers.

Nationally, 2019 marks the 35th year for Relay for Life. In 1985, Dr. Gordon Klatt held the first Relay when he ran around a track in Tacoma, Washington, to raise money for cancer research. Since then, Relay for Life events have been held throughout the United States and around the world.