By Sophie Zelony
After being held at Roswell parks the first three years, Ruach Atlanta is moving south of the Chattahoochee to North Springs Charter High School at 7447 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.
Five teams — representing Temple Beth Tikvah, Temple Kol Emeth, Congregation Ner Tamid and Jewish Family & Career Services — have signed up for the Oct. 11 event toward a goal of about 25 teams with 300 to 400 participants, if not more. The fundraising goal is $35,000, up from $26,000 raised last year. Already, $4,200 has been raised.
Ruach Atlanta is held on a Sunday to enable Shabbat-observant Jews to participate in Relay for Life, although the event is not faith-based and is open to all.
Relay for Life traditionally lasts up to 24 hours, representing the 24-hour-a-day struggle against cancer, and normally takes place on Friday night and Saturday, conflicting with Shabbat. Former Temple Beth Tikvah President Sheryl Blechner came up with the idea of a Sunday Relay to avoid that conflict.
Not only is Relay for Life Ruach Atlanta a chance to memorialize those who have lost their fight to cancer and to honor those who are still fighting or have survived cancer, but it is also an opportunity to celebrate life.
“We want families to understand that this is a festival atmosphere with activities for kids and adults alike,” said Blechner, a co-chair of the event. “We really want to grow this event and encourage people who have not participated in the past to register and participate this year.”
Ruach Atlanta — ruach means spirit — is an event that solidifies the spirit and willingness to support one another and to fight cancer as a community.
That spirit extends to fundraisers throughout the year. For example, a fundraiser is set for Monday, July 20, from 3 to 6 p.m. at Menchie’s at Sweet Apple Village, 12030 Etris Road, Roswell.
The main event will run from 1 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, and incorporates all the traditional Relay elements.
An opening ceremony kicks off Ruach Atlanta at 1 and is immediately followed by a survivor lap. Team members then can accompany the survivors and caregivers during a team lap.
The luminaria ceremony takes place at 6 p.m. Luminaria are paper bags containing candles that are dedicated by participants to honor or memorialize individuals.
The closing ceremony starts at 7.
To register or join a team for Ruach Atlanta, go to www.RelayForLife.org/ruachga. A $10 donation is suggested but not mandatory as a sign-up fee. Survivors are always free.
Organizations are encouraged to participate in honor of specific survivors or in memory of specific people who died of cancer. The Relay staff will create posters of the honored individuals if the groups they are associated with provide photos.