Upshur Relay for Life invites community to kickoff of 25th annual event Feb. 26

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Relay for Life will celebrate fighting cancer for 25 years this Saturday.

Robin Oldaker, the chairperson for Upshur County Relay for Life, said the celebration will take place at 11 a.m. Feb. 26 at Christian Fellowship Church on Norvell Drive.

“Every year we have a kickoff, which gets us all in the mood and our thoughts going for Relay, and we will discuss at this event,” Oldaker said. “We will have games and food, we’ll have a guest speaker, Crystal Shaw, who started Upshur County Relay 25 years ago.”

She said it has been incredible to see the progress in cancer research over the past quarter-century.

“The number of deaths is going down and survival rates are going up; things have changed so much, even with Relay in 25 years,” Oldaker said. “It used to be an all-day event, and we’ve condensed it and this year is only going to be four hours, but we’re still going to recognize our survivors, honor our survivors, caregivers and honor the ones that have passed with a luminary service, tentatively set on July 16 is our big Relay celebration.”

The 2022 event will hopefully return to a sense of normalcy after organizers had to adjust previous events because of COVID-19.

“We’re planning on having our normal Relay with our survivor lap and caregiver lap and then we’ll be walking the whole evening,” Oldaker said. “In honor of those who aren’t able to walk, we’ll have individual teams who will have canopies set up, we call them campsites, and they will be doing activities to raise money and we hope to have a band there to perform.”

The celebration will also double as a brainstorming session for the 2022 event, and they hope to bring in more groups to participate. To that end, the Buckhannon-Upshur community is invited to Saturday’s kickoff.

“We’re really interested in having more teams involved, and we will have information at the event Saturday to get information out,” Oldaker said. “People can attend for anyone who wants to sponsor, or we just want to get people involved and let them see what the American Cancer Society does.”

The money raised during Relay for Life goes back into cancer research and other programs that help people currently undergoing treatment as well as survivors.

“One of the programs is for research, to find ways to prevent cancer and for early detection,” Oldaker said. “Money is also used in treatment programs to help patients who cannot afford to pay. It is an awareness program and getting the word out for early detection, and it also provides services for those who are going through the treatment. It can provide hotel stays, it provides transportation to their treatments, and I know from personal experience, it also provided wigs for those who lose their hair due to cancer.”

Everyone is welcome to attend the kickoff celebration to help support Relay, Oldaker emphasized.

“They don’t have to be a survivor; they don’t have to be involved with the team,” she said. “If they just want to come to show their support and they’re ready for some fun with Relay, we would love to have anyone who wants to come.”

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