The community united Saturday for a day of family fun while also helping to raise funds to fight cancer.
Niles residents united at a fall festival at Stevens Park which officially kicked off the 2014 Relay For Life season.
Denise Seman, Relay co-chair, said the teams have begun raising funds for the Niles Relay which will be held May 2 and 3 at the Ralph Infante Wellness Center.
The Niles Times / Bob Coupland
Abigail Smolko, 7, left, and Emily Macik, 8, pick special ducks to win prizes during the fall family fun event held Saturday at Stevens Park. The event was hosted by Niles Relay For Life.
The goal for the next Relay For Life is $60,000, which organizers said will take months to reach.
Vendors were on hand selling arts and crafts. The day also included a children's game and activity area where kids were invited to paint pumpkins, a cornhole tournament, chili cookoff, crafts, Chinese auction, an egg hunt, a Peter Pan skit, music and costumed characters from Walt Disney and "Star Wars."
"The Relay runs for more than just the actual weekend that the Relay exists," Seman said. "The new season for the 2014 Relay started at the beginning of September, so we are doing all of our fundraising to meet our goal by the Relay on May 2 and 3."
As another fundraiser, the Relay teams will hold an Octoberfest from 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday in downtown Niles.
Hundreds of people attended the park event which included educating people on how their involvement benefits the American Cancer Society in helping to save lives.
Seman said this is the first time the Niles Relay has held a fall fundraising event, but they plan to continue it every year.
"We hope to make this an annual event," she said.
Relay For Life is a 24-hour community event where individuals and teams walk continuously around a track to raise money for the American Cancer Society's programs, support groups and cancer research.
During the event, team members generally fundraise with a specific theme, wear matching T-shirts with their own original designs, hold fundraisers at their individual stations and offer games for children and adults.
Teams also participate in their own traditions throughout the event earning prizes that include best decorated tent, best T-shirt design, best midnight snack, best breakfast and more. In addition to raising money to fight cancer, the relay represents hope that those lost to cancer will no be forgotten.
Seman and Jessica Crank serve co-chairpersons for the Niles event.