Relay For Life won't stop for COVID-19
COVID-19 has not managed to stop cancer.
"We have to continue to fight it any way we can, and if that means that we have to break it up into small groups, then that's what we do," said Pam Jackson, who is helping chair the 21st Annual Relay For Life of Crook County fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.
Organizers have made quite a few changes to the local relay, which is planned for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 25. It will take place in a neighborhood near you.
"Cancer is still there, Relay For Life is still fighting, American Cancer Society is still fighting, but at the same time, we're having to adjust to the requirements," explained Pam, a colon cancer survivor.
Relay For Life is an organized community fundraising walk. Traditionally, teams of participants camp out around a large track, and members of each team take turns walking around the track for the duration of the event. Food, games and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie during the family-friendly event that is open to the community.
The relay recognizes, honors and celebrates all who have fought a battle with cancer while raising funds to support cancer research and provide resources to those with cancer.
Pam, along with her daughter, Kristi Jackson, and Justine Hill chair the local relay and have selected Surfing for a Cure as the theme.
In past years, they have had the event at the Crook County Fairgrounds or Ward Rhoden Stadium, but because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and Phase 2 reopening requirements to maintain physical distancing, those venues were not feasible this year.
So, Relay For Life organizers had to get creative.
They changed it from a 24-hour event to 12 hours. Event headquarters will be in the Prepper Up parking lot, 862 NW Third St. in Prineville.
"They have graciously volunteered to let us use their parking lot," Pam said of the local business owners.
Registration, the opening ceremony, the Relay For Life store, the survivor's tent, and the silent auction will be held at Prepper Up.
"I will be doing a livestream on Facebook. Because of the restrictions of group gatherings, that's the easiest way to be able to still do the opening ceremony," Kristi said. "People are welcome to come down, just keeping your distance there in the parking lot, and it will be live on our Relay For Life Facebook page."
Following the 10 a.m. opening ceremony, the eight Relay For Life teams will disperse to their campsites throughout Prineville. Each team has selected the home of one of its members to be their team "campsite."
Cancer survivors will then participate in a survivor lap at their campsite at 10:30 a.m., and then team members will take turns walking laps around their neighborhood. Be on the lookout for posters around town that will list addresses of each team campsite — they will welcome visitors.
The traditional luminaria ceremony, which remembers those fighting and those who have lost the battle to cancer, will begin at 10 p.m. on the Crook County Courthouse front steps and lawn, followed by the closing ceremony.
"That'll give us a lot of room for people to be able to spread out but still participate in the luminaria ceremony," Kristi said.
The Crook County Relay For Life event is the only one being held in Central Oregon this summer.
"In Crook County, more money from the American Cancer Society gets put into our county than we actually raise at Relay," Kristi pointed out.
Pam noted that the society collects funds raised through Relay For Life events and disperses funds for research and programs to help cancer patients pay for travel expenses and support services.
"There is no way you can walk around Crook County without encountering, knowing, being related to, someone who has had cancer or has cancer right now and is fighting it," Pam said. "It seems like it's more and more, and it's everywhere you turn."
Typically, organizers set a goal to raise $40,000 to $50,000 in Crook County, and teams have reached that goal. However, Pam said they did not set a goal this year because of so many locals being out of work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"If there's anybody in the community that would like to start a team, that would come out and join us, we're still asking for members," she said. "Anybody is welcome."
Relay For Life of Crook County
Date: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 25
Event headquarters: Prepper Up parking lot, 862 NW Third St. in Prineville
Facebook: Crook County Relay For Life
To join a team or donate, contact chairs Pam Jackson, 541-390-6366, or Kristi Jackson, 541-390-5198.
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