WHY WE'VE REPORTED IT Relay For Life is an overnight event that doubles as a way to raise awareness while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

The Smyrna/Clayton area held its first-ever Relay For Life in May, exceeding the goal of $25,000. The 20 teams and 220 participants raised a total of $33,000.

To cap the event's success, Smyrna School District's Debbie Wicks was named Superintendent of the Year, an award that goes to a superintendent who has helped spread Relay within their school district.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT North Smyrna Elementary teacher Staci Lewis leads the Smyrna/Clayton Relay For Life and said the group's ability to exceed expectations the first year shows how the community rallies together.

"I feel that the event is a perfect way to showcase the Smyrna and Clayton sense of community and compassion," Lewis said. "Two participants from the 2012 relay, George Scuse and Allan Emerson, lost their battles with cancer earlier this year. We were honored to have them as a part of the first Relay For Life in Smyrna and hope that we can continue to raise awareness as well as money, to help others."

WHAT'S NEXT Lewis said 2013 Relay would be Friday, May 17. The group has 21 teams and 69 participants registered for 2013; the goal is to have 25 teams. They hope to raise $36,000. The theme for this year's event is carnival.

The committee meetings started a few months ago and the team meetings will begin in January with the kick-off Monday, Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. at Willis Chevrolet.

"We are looking forward to having even more of the community join us in 2013," Lewis said.