"But it doesn't matter," O'Donnell said. "I'll be there anyway." She is, after all, the honorary chairperson for the American Cancer fund-raiser, which mobilizes communities to celebrate cancer survivors, remember those who lost their lives to cancer and raise money. The overnight activity takes place on June 25 and 26, from 7 p.m.to 7 a.m. at the Bethel High School track. Despite the bad weather in 2003, the Bethel Relay drew 4,000 people and raised $275,000. This year marks its 10th anniversary and organizers are expecting the turnout to be even greater. "So far we have 75 teams signed up. We had 98 last year and are shooting for over 100 this year," said Bethel Relay For Life Co-Chair Laura McCormick. Teams of 10 people are comprised of individuals, businesses and civic groups from the towns of Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, New Fairfield and Redding. Each team member is asked to raise at least $100, and teams make sure one member remains on the track either walking or jogging during the relay. Money raised helps support American Cancer Society's programs in cancer research, education, advocacy and patient services. O'Donnell is a long-time supporter of the relay and has volunteered for the American Cancer Society for 10 years. She also has cancer. She had breast cancer in 1991. The disease was in remission for nine years, then O'Donnell was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She has been treated with radiation and takes oral chemotherapy drugs. She plans to deliver a message of hope at the opening ceremony. "I'm going to ask family members and caregivers to be supportive and to talk to the people they know with cancer. I think it's very important for cancer patients to talk about their cancer if they want. I'm going to ask survivors to have a good attitude," she said, settling onto a sofa before work one morning in the Bethel home she shares with husband, Jack O'Donnell. O'Donnell has helped with the relay in Bethel for nine years. She has put together a relay team and been involved with registering participants in helping to plan the event. "The first time I walked the survivor's lap, it was small, and now thousands of people come. Some set up tents and bring food. There's something going on just about every hour at the relay. People come because cancer touches absolutely everyone," said O'Donnell. She remains optimistic about her own cancer and is grateful for the support she has. "People are praying for you and that helps. All we can do is keep it under control. I'm blessed for every day," she said, then turned the conversation back to the upcoming fund-raiser. "It's a great event. First of all, it raises money for research for people like me. So when patients like me become immune to a treatment, there's something new. Seeing all these people come together at one time for this cause is wonderful." The survivors' reception Friday night, at 5 p.m. in the middle school cafeteria, includes a complimentary dinner, courtesy of Outback Steakhouse in Danbury, Putnam House Restaurant and Tap Room and Tonnelli's Restaurant, for survivors and one caregiver. The Bethel Relay for Life is free and open to the public and begins at 7 p.m. at the high school track. There will be an opening reception, then survivors and caregivers take the first "survivors lap" and teams will follow. At 9 p.m., the luminaria ceremony kicks off. For a minimum donation of $10, people can light a luminaria, or paper lanterns, which are lined up around the track. Each one is dedicated in memory of someone who has passed away from cancer or in honor of a survivor. There is a closing ceremony is Saturday morning at 7. Teams are still being formed for the Bethel Relay and volunteers are still needed to help during the two-day event. Jobs involve setting up luminary bags, selling them before and during the event and with setting up, serving and cleaning up the survivors reception. Help is also needed for a clean up crew in the morning, and logistical help throughout the night, such as waste removal. To organize a team or volunteer for the Bethel Relay for Life. contact Laura McCormick at 203-797-9351 or the American Cancer Society office at 1-800-889-3340. Press 3 and ask for Jean Cummings.