Merrittonians will descend on Rotary Park this weekend to help stomp out cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Merritt begins at noon on Saturday and teams of relayers will keep the party going until midnight.

Relay for Life is a 12-hour fundraiser where team members take turns running or walking laps overnight in an effort to raise money for cancer research. Teams gather with survivors at a local track or field and have at least one member on the track at all times with festivities taking place around them.

Merritt’s relay volunteer chair Diane Van Hoof told the Herald participants have raised $4,304 for the Canadian Cancer Society so far.

Teams raised money prior to the event and there will be fundraising ongoing at the relay.

Van Hoof said the goal is to raise $6,000. Last year’s event raised just over $7,000.

She said they are expecting seven teams and 47 participants at this year’s Relay for Life.

There are seven cancer survivors participating in the relay, Van Hoof said, and anyone is welcome to join in.

This year’s theme is stepping on cancer.

People can purchase a footprint made of construction paper to put over and blot out a poster with the word cancer on it at the relay.

She said people can write a message or name on their purchased footprint.

The funds raised benefit local people with cancer as well.

One of the society’s programs offers rides to cancer patients to be taken to their appointments and back. Van Hoof said that initiative helps locals get to places out of town for treatment such as Kamloops, Kelowna or Vancouver.

Another initiative the funds help support is the Camp Goodtimes program.

“Locally, we have children that do go to that camp, which is basically a support system of their peers,” Van Hoof said.

Van Hoof said she volunteers for the relay because she’s had several family members pass away from the disease.

“I have an uncle that’s been told he only has a couple more months to live,” she said.

Van Hoof’s friend Jordyn Tolles was diagnosed with cancer when she was only four years old.

“She’s like a daughter to me,” Van Hoof said. “She is a survivor. She’s 15 now and is cancer free.”

Tolles has her own team in the relay known as Team Jordyn Rocks.

This year, team captains will be dressed as members of the opposite gender, and there will be three theme laps: a ski lap, crazy lap and racecar lap.

For the ski lap, teams will have their legs tied together and move along the track as if they’re skiing. The crazy lap involves participants wearing any sort of unusual outfit and the racecar lap will have them build a racecar out of cardboard and string before racing around the track.

A concession stand will be on-site and donating about 25 per cent of their sales to the relay, Van Hoof said.

There will be plenty of other activities planned for the event. Van Hoof said there will be a cake walk and singers at the relay. Karaoke, an auction, a blindfolded feeding contest and reading stories to kids are planned for the event as well.

The main issue Relay for Life is raising awareness of this year is the dangers of flavoured tobacco, she said.

In 2012, the local relay had eight teams with 62 participants and in 2013 there were 12 teams with 90 people coming out to support the cause.

Across Canada last year, Relay for Life saw 16,224 teams raise almost $47 million for cancer research. There are 500 communities nationwide that take part in the event. Globally, Relay for Life takes place in 20 countries.