By Katie Fallon

The large crowd expected at North Springs High School on May 4 won’t be because of a high-stakes football game or marching band performance, but rather an opportunity to save lives.

More specifically, the school will be hosting the North Perimeter Relay for Life, a nationwide fundraiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS) that is held in thousands of communities across the country. This year’s North Perimeter relay marks the first time in the event’s eight-year existence that it will be held in Sandy Springs.

The relay will be held from 7 p.m. that Friday to 7 a.m. the following morning. Hundreds of walkers, most of whom participate on teams, will utilize the track at North Springs to try and keep at least one member of the team on the track at all times during the relay. The event, however is not a race and is not considered competitive.

ACS income manager Meredith Parnell is just one of the many people behind the scenes who is helping to coordinate this year’s North Perimeter Relay for Life. She said the design of the relay, to constantly have a walker on the track, is meant to symbolize the constant battle against cancer.

This year, Parnell said organizers are expecting around 500 participants. The fundraising goal for the event is $100,000.

Unlike other cancer walks, the Relay for Life does not have a minimum fundraising level that all participants must achieve. Parnell said the reason is to celebrate those who can participate in the relay at any level. She said event organizers suggest that each team member set a goal to raise at least $100.

“This is just a suggested amount, so obviously, team members are encouraged to raise more if they can and if they cannot meet that goal, there won’t be any consequences,” Parnell said. “We want everybody to have fun doing this and the night of the relay is a celebration for everyone who has participated in whatever capacity they are able to do so.”

Parnell said teams often set their own personal goals simply to have something to work toward.

“Any money raised by a team is a great accomplishment and we are there to celebrate the efforts made by that team,” Parnell said. “Some double or triple their goals and some may not meet their goals, but that’s not the point of the relay.”

The relay is being co-hosted at North Springs by the Interact Club and the Student Government Association. Both groups have been hard at work planning and organizing for the hundreds of walkers who will descend on the Sandy Springs high school’s campus for 12 hours.

North Springs language arts teacher Adam Throne is the faculty sponsor for the Interact Club and has been helping his students plan for the Relay for Life. He said the small group of students has taken on quite a large effort.

“They’ve been great about getting things done,” Throne said. “We’re really excited about it.”

The school has even been holding fundraisers of its own, including one in which students sold bracelets, and teaming up with student groups from other schools, including the Riverwood High School Interact Club. Other fundraisers include luminary sales and a memory wall.

The students are even going beyond their planning efforts. The SGA is also fielding a team — captained by student Sarah Jones —of students to walk in the relay. The team has a goal of recruiting 30 team members and raising $1,500. The school’s total fundraising goal, Throne said, is $2,800.

In addition to the relay teams from SGA and the Interact club, Throne said the school’s National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Sci Fi Club and Writer’s Circle are also fielding event volunteers as well as team members. Team members alone now total more than 30.

Throne said the school hopes to arrange for some entertainment as well as get vendors to donate food. The American Cancer Society has arranged for Best Buy to contribute video games and a video screen.

According to the American Cancer Society, the Relay for Life is held in 4,800 communities nationwide, with 3.5 million “relayers” participating on teams of families, friends and coworkers.