Relay For Life of Pettis and Johnson County attracted 311 participants on 29 teams Saturday at the Smith-Cotton gymnasium to benefit the American Cancer Society.

Event Lead Melissa McGathy noted that this was the first year for the combined event with a neighboring county. “Johnson County was a smaller Relay, so they decided to sunset theirs, which means they basically shut their's down,” she said. So Johnson County Tri-Lead David Seenauth contacted McGathy and requested the joint event. “So he decided that instead of sitting back and not doing anything with the Relay, he contacted Pettis County.”

The monetary goal for the Relay was $70,000, McGathy noted. As of Monday morning, the Relay's website showed that $39,900.68 had been raised for the cause.

Cancer survivor Pauline Hays was the guest speaker for the event. “We take one day at a time,” Hays said during her speech at the start of the 12-hour event. “And we stand tall. We choose life.”

Community Manager Seth Freeman was another speaker during the opening ceremony. “we're here to celebrate a community.” Freeman said. “No more cancer, that's our goal.”

In fact, luminaries were set up on the opposing gym bleachers, spelling out the word CURE. The luminaria ceremony was scheduled for 9:30 that night.

The theme for the event was “Passport to a Cure.” Numerous teams decorated their encampments lining the mezzanine with international themes representing various countries and nationalities.

The American Legion Post 642 Color Guard posted the Colors during the singing of the National Anthem by Kaelyn Rae.

The LifePointe band performed at 7 p.m. And a DJ was set up to provide music all 12 hours of the Relay.

A half dozen tables were filled with donated items for the silent auction, and clusters of purple and white balloons decorated the lobby area of the gym.

And for the kids, there was face painting, games and a bounce house in the upper west gym at S-C.

Special theme laps were scheduled,such as patriotic, pajamas, glow sticks, Born to be Wild, Superheroes, Fight Back, Purple Rain, Party Hour, Buddy Lap, Stay Awake Lap and Light Up the Track, to name just a few. Of course, the Relay was led off by the traditional Survivor Lap, followed by a Team Lap.

Awards were presented for the best campsite, and all sponsors were recognized for the contributions as well.