AYER -- Relay for Life planners are looking for volunteers for the town's annual relay at Ayer-Shirley Regional High School.

The cancer fundraiser, which allows teams to run or walk in a 12-hour relay, needs members for its planning committee. The group will meet once a month for about an hour and a half, dividing responsibilities into smaller subcommittees that will take care of things such as entertainment and sponsorships.

Relay for Life specialist Katy Nowoswiat said the work is split so that no one feels overwhelmed.

"It's a really great way to feel like you are making a difference in the fight against cancer personally," said Nowoswiat. "I think sometimes we see cancer as an issue that we cannot have an affect on as one single person."

Last year, more than 200 participants beat the $50,000 goal by raising $61,000 -- money that goes to services for cancer patients. Programs can include anything from beauty sessions by Look Good, Feel Better to free rides to treatments by Road to Recovery.

Nowoswiat said the relay is a great way for the community to come together to make a difference in the fight against cancer.

"It's kind of a catharsis," she said. "You grieve a little, and you get happy and you see all the survivors, and it just gives you hope that we will find a cure and we won't have to hear the words 'you have cancer' anymore."

Debbie Lizotte, last year's co-chairman of registration, said that people cannot fully understand the event until they see it themselves.


"I think the way you could really get the feel of it is to come just to feel the emotions in the air," she said. "Especially during the survivor lap. You see people of all ages, including small children with the purple shirts on, and you see them at all stages of the disease."

Lizotte was the captain of the team for her employer, North Middlesex Savings Bank.

Last year, entertainment throughout the night included a kids' carnival, movies, a pie-eating contest and more.

Lizotte encourages people to come and see the event kickoff, which could take place in early March. The kickoff usually features inspirational speakers and allows participants to learn how to put a team together. People can then decide how they want to be involved, she said.

"There's no pressure, we're always looking for people to help out in any way they want," she said.

Anyone who may be interested in joining the planning committee can contact Nowoswiat at 781-314-2660 or at katy.nowoswiat@cancer.org.

Follow Amelia on Twitter and Tout @AmeliaPakHarvey.