BUCKHANNON – A social distancing Upshur County Relay for Life will kick off July 18 at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
The event leader Daisy Hunt said Relay’s usual venue, Jawbone Park, wouldn’t work with their plan to have people drive their vehicles for the relay.
Relay raises money for the American Cancer Society.
“The only people that will be out of the cars is the committee and the volunteers who are helping to direct traffic and to put out the luminaries, and there won’t be any luminary sales at the Relay,” Hunt said. “Everything has to be done ahead of time, and the form to buy the luminaries is will be in The Record Delta.”
The money from purchasing luminaries goes back into Relay for Life and to the American Cancer Society for programs to help those with cancer.
“That money goes into research and programs, like there are rides to your chemotherapy appointment if you have trouble getting to chemo and back, or if you need help getting to doctor’s appointments and back, there’s a number you can call and someone will help you get to your appointments,” Hunt said. “There are wigs – they buy wigs for people who have lost their hair because of chemo.”
The event will kick off at 8:30 p.m. with the Survivors’ Lap, where cancer survivors will drive around the loop at the high school and back to the parking lot.
“They can decorate their cars and hold up signs, banners and whatever they want to do, to just make their presence known because the survivors are the reason we have Relay – that’s what we’re celebrating every year,” Hunt said.
After the Survivors’ Lap, the caregivers’ and the survivors’ speeches will take place, and in the meantime, the committee will be setting up the luminaries.
“After that everyone will make the lap around in honor of the ones that have passed on and to give encouragement to the ones who are still fighting,” Hunt said. “After that, we’ll all go back to the parking lot, we’ll have our closing prayer, and everyone will go home.”
Hunt said they knew around May they would have to adapt because of COVID-19, but they were determined to host Relay.
“This is very important to all of us,” Hunt said. “Everyone on the committee has either had cancer or knows someone that had cancer, and this is a personal fight for us – this isn’t just something we do for fun. Our view is that cancer is as big of a pandemic as the coronavirus, and we’re going to fight to the end. We’ll find a cure one of these days.”
She said COVID-19 has affected people going through cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.
“I work in a doctor’s office, and we have been keeping people that are immunocompromised at home, and doing telephone visits and things like that so they don’t have to come out in this, but people who are taking chemo are very immunocompromised and this is something that’s hitting them pretty hard,” Hunt said. “For people who think it’s not a big deal to wear their masks, those are the people that suffer when you don’t wear your masks.”