Each year, area residents gather at the track at Carlisle High School for Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

This year’s event begins at 6 p.m. on May 18 and concludes at noon on May 19. Team members take turns walking around the track. Each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to symbolize that cancer never sleeps and that cancer patients can’t stop because they are tired.

Teams set up a campsite at the event and conduct additional fundraisers to add to their donation.

Seventeen teams are registered for this year’s event, and registration is still open at the Relay for Life website for additional teams.

This year, Karen and Jim Griffith have combined their artistic endeavors at Create-a-Palooza on High Street in Carlisle with some friendly competition among downtown businesses to give Relay for Life a boost.

Q. What is the Penguin March?

A. Twenty-one businesses in the Carlisle area are hosting a colorful and creative penguin bank. The banks will be on display from March 1 to March 31, and all proceeds will be donated to the Carlisle Relay for Life. Each penguin bank is unique. We’re also encouraging people to vote for their favorite penguin after donating, and we’re excited to learn which will become the favorite. Penguin banks will also be raffled off at the May 18 and 19 Relay for Life event at Carlisle High School.

Q. Why penguins?

A. Soon after we announced the Penguin Toss fundraiser for the recent Ice Art Fest, we were approached to partner with Carlisle Relay for Life on a community fundraiser. Everyone really liked the penguin bank, and Penguin March just sounded fun. We were also inspired by the Cows on Parade event from some years ago, particularly the concept of unique variations on a common theme. We’d like to consider revisiting the concept in future years with different animals.

Q. How did you decide to do a fundraiser for Relay for Life?

A. It all started three years ago, when a close friend’s daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of eight. We’ve been doing whatever we can to support the family ever since, and are pleased to report that their daughter is doing well. She spoke at last year’s Relay for Life and at several other area events. This cause is of particular importance to our business. We will also be sponsoring free activities at the Carlisle High School Relay for Life event.

Q. Where can people go to see the penguins?

A. The following 21 businesses are supporting the Penguin March. Many have painted their own penguin banks, while a few have entrusted the task to volunteers. An interactive map of all locations is also available on Create-A-Palooza’s website (www.create-a-palooza.com): Create-A-Palooza, Seve-N-Dots, Castlerigg Wine Shop, Pat Craig Studio, Mummert Chocolates, the Clothes Vine, American Artisan Gallery, the Grazery, Artist Market Boutique of Pomfret Street, 2nd time Around, the Greatest Gift, History on High, No Common Scents, North Hanover Grille, Taquita Laurita, Carlisle Family Life Center, Liberty Tax, Beeman’s Bakery, Anahata Yoga, Carlisle Fitness Academy & Tae Kwon Do Center and Residence Inn

Q. As a downtown business owner, what drives you to create and participate in events like this that cover the whole downtown?

A. While we’re primarily local business owners, my husband and I both had our start in education and public service. I’m also the art teacher at St. Patrick School, and my husband, Jim, teaches adjunct at HACC while working in the IT industry. We also take inspiration from longtime companies in the area, such as Tuckey, who have been very successful while also contributing positively to the region.

Ultimately, we just want to do our part to contribute to the quality of life and well-being of those who live here. With childhood leukemia, it’s a very difficult condition to face and it can happen to anyone. We all need to work together to find a cure.

Email Tammie at tgitt@cumberlink.com. Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.