For the second year in a row, the Relay for Life in Ayer will be helping Loaves & Fishes by gathering food to “anchor” their luminaries.

Starting on Friday evening, June 18, 28 registered teams of more than 900 individuals from Ayer, Groton, Leominster, Pepperell, Shirley and Townsend will participate in the Relay for Life, which will be held at the Ayer High School track. Friday night’s Opening Ceremony at 6 p.m. features a survivor celebration lap at 6:20 p.m., followed by a survivor celebration dinner hosted by Nashoba Valley Medical Center in the Ayer High School Cafeteria. All cancer survivors are invited to attend this moving kick-off event, with entertainment by WXLO’s Steve Donovan.

At 9 p.m. on Friday, a luminaria ceremony will be held, remembering and honoring those loved ones who could not be with us for the Relay. Instead of using sand to anchor the luminaries, Amy Messcher, chair of the event, has asked for people to donate cans of non-perishable food for Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry.

“Our Relay is a celebration of life and hope for those fighting cancer and those who have survived cancer in our area,” says Messcher. “Loaves & Fishes also provides hope and support, and it’s a perfect way for us to recognize and support another local organization dedicated to helping others.” Donations of food for the Relay may be brought to the Ayer High School any time before 11:30 Saturday morning, June 19, and should be dropped off at the DJ Tent.

This Relay for Life is celebrating its 12th year, with themed laps including “Power of Purple,” “Prom,” “Patriotic,” “Java,” “Crazy Hat,” and more. There will be lots of entertainment, too — from jazzercise to karate demos, a Kids Karnival Friday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. (including a pie-eating contest), and appearances by Miss Massachusetts and Blinkie the Clown. There will be a “day of drawing” tent with at least 20 raffle-type drawings in which spectators and participants can win wonderful prizes.

At noon on Saturday, June 19, the Relay for Life closing ceremony will be held, recognizing those who have participated and giving some preliminary totals for the amount raised by the event. “Our goal is $78,000,” says Messcher. “And we know we’re close to that. But we can always use more in our fight against cancer, so if you would like to make a donation, either bring it to the Relay or mail it 11 Gardner Lane, Ayer, MA 01432. Remember — together we do make a difference in the fight against cancer.”

Relay for Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of your American Cancer Society. For more information about the Ayer event, please contact Amy Messcher at For more information about Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, please contact tohelp@loavesfishespantry. org.