"It's really grown as an event through the years," Barkley said. "Every year, we still have people that have never been to Relay and when they come, [they see] ... the sense of community support that families and cancer survivors and just the general community get by being there. [At Relay] they don't feel alone."
The overnight event in which team members will take turns walking around Cartersville's Dellinger Park track will culminate months of fundraising by participants. Last year, 106 teams generated $272,000 for the American Cancer Society, which provides information, offers programs to patients, and funds research for cancer treatments and cures.
"Every day there's somebody [impacted] by this disease. ... I have been touched by it and both of my parents have died from it," said cancer survivor Benita Hill, a co-chairman for Bartow County's Relay for Life. "So it's just a way for me to help raise money to find a cure for this.
"I just enjoy seeing the people and people getting out and supporting this great cause. Last year, I think, might have been a record number for us. It was awesome just to see that many people coming out together and help try to find a cure for this."
While teams can register through late July, Barkley encourages them to sign up as soon as possible to have ample time to fundraise. This year, the ACS is launching a national campaign encouraging each Relay for Life participant to raise $212.
"The 212 -- is basically at the point of boiling water," Barkley said. "So we're trying to get people to turn on the heat, to get fired up and to raise money. ... [We are continuing] our efforts of trying to increase more birthdays with increasing the survival rate of cancer survivors. Right now, we're saving 350 more lives [each day] than we did 20 years ago. And we noticed that if we continue to do the efforts that we're doing that we could save 1,000 more lives a day. ... The main piece of the event is to fundraise against cancer, to fight cancer.
"The day of the event is about the celebration side of it. So it truly is a fundraiser," she said, adding the benefits of teams that have already registered are running the gamut. "We've got one team that is selling bed sheets. We've got teams that are doing bake sales and barbecues, car washes."
For more information about Relay for Life, to register a team or view fundraisers, visit www.bartowrelayforlife.org or call Barkley at 770-429-0089.