TROY - The Relay for Life of Western Bradford County is setting the pace - literally.

During opening ceremonies for the Relay Saturday at Alparon Park in Troy, the organization was presented the "Pacesetter" award, consisting of a large banner, by the American Cancer Society (ACS).

According to Tara Gordon, community income development specialist with ACS, the western Bradford County Relay was only one of six Relays to out of 53 in the Central Region to get the award.

She said the award was in honor of the western Bradford County Relay surpassing four goals, one for recruiting teams, another for getting sponsorships, one for pre-registering survivors, and another for recruiting committee chairs for 2011.

"I think it's really wonderful," she said. She said the community and the Relay committee made it possible.

In addition, she said the Relay will be recognized at the Relay state conference in October in Lancaster.

Carlene Austin, a Relay member from the Merry Bees team in Big Pond, was impressed by the award.

"I think it's great," she said. "I think it says it (the western Bradford County Relay) is a success."

Relay for Life is the ACS' nationwide signature activity and remains the strongest source of dollars for the society to fund its mission of eliminating cancer as a major health problem, according to the ACS Web site.

Described as a fun, overnight, team event, Relay for Life events are held at school/community tracks and stadiums with teams of eight to 15 members who each raise money and commit to having one member of the team on the track for the duration of the 24-hour event. According to a news release from the Relay, the event "represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated."

This year is a milestone for the Relay for Life in western Bradford County.

It's five years old, and has come a long way.

Gordon noted that the Relay had about 10 teams its first year and it's expanded to 27 teams this year.

As for the fundraising goal, the Relay is hoping to raise $47,500 this year. The amount of money raised wasn't yet tallied Saturday, but Gordon said she was hopeful the goal would be reached.

One survivor, Mary Dunbar of Troy, attended and signed the survivor quilt, which Gordon said will be donated to the cancer center at Robert Packer Hospital or to a cancer survivor.

Dunbar is celebrating being free of cancer for seven years. She was successful in her fight against breast cancer and a brain tumor. Today, she eats more fruits and vegetables, and walks every day to remain healthy.

She was happy about being able to attend the Relay. "It feels wonderful, knowing I came this far with it," she said. According to Dunbar, it was her family, friends, and a positive attitude that helped her win her battle against cancer.

In addition to all the activities, a luminaria ceremony was scheduled for Saturday night. People could purchase a candle in memory or in honor of someone who has or has had cancer, a news release noted. The Relay concludes today at 11 a.m. with closing ceremonies at 10:30 a.m.