EDINBURG -- For the first time ever, the American Cancer Society and the University of Texas-Pan American will jointly host Edinburg's annual tribute to cancer awareness beginning this Friday evening.

More than 3,000 participants are slated to attend the third annual Relay For Life event on April 29 at Cats Stadium. At the relay, teams of people camped out at the stadium will take turns walking around the track as a way to honor victims, as well as survivors of the disease. The event will take place from 7 p.m. on Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.

"Since we're two small communities in the same community, we felt that putting them together would increase the impact of the message, which is supporting our community and supporting our cancer survivors, and encouraging awareness," said Yanira Aguilar, this year's Relay for Life chairperson. "It's remembering that the biggest way to survive cancer is early detection, if we can encourage our community to truly go out and understand what cancer is about, well this allows us to get that message across."

ACS and UTPA are urging everybody in the community to attend the event, which is free of charge. The theme for this year's event is 'Relay Through the Decades', with various teams dressing up from a particular era.

Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia will speak at the event, and will offer a proclamation on behalf of the city. Hidalgo County Pct. 4 Commissioner Joseph Palacios is also slated to attend, and will also represent the county at the event, according to ACS.  

Student organizations from UTPA are sponsoring various activities at the event. Community hour will also feature mascots from local businesses, schools and sports teams including the Vipers, Killer Bees, Roadrunners and UTPA's own 'Bucky'.

The 141st Texas Army National Guard out of Weslaco will present the colors, and will escort survivors during the event's 'Survivor Lap' around the track.

"Cancer doesn't discriminate, and you will see all of our survivors wear purple. You will see everyone from tiny children to ninety year olds. It's an incredible thing to see," said Heather Marks, Community Manager of Development at ACS. "We do so much to celebrate our survivors and honor them and what they have gone through and remember those we have lost through an incredible lumanaria ceremony. It's an all night pep rally to remind people that awareness is key."

Anyone looking to get involved with the event can call Yanira Aguilar at 789-6461 or the American Cancer Society at 682-8329.