CHEBOYGAN — Typically, each year, the American Cancer Society has its Relay for Life event at the Cheboygan County Fairgrounds, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, some changes were made to still have the event.
This year's event will be on Saturday, June 6, at Festival Square in downtown Cheboygan, in honor of National Cancer Survivors Day on June 7. This is a drive through event only and people are asked to not leave their vehicles at any time. As always, this will be an event to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer.
The American Cancer Society’s annual Relay For Life Top of the Mitt, originally scheduled for June 6-7, has been postponed until fall.
Tammy Raymus, event coordinator, said the local planning committee wants to bring awareness to National Cancer Survivors Day because “Cancer hasn’t stopped. So neither have we.”
The drive through luminaria display will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, June 6 and remain on display until 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7.
A favorite and emotional ceremony at Relay For Life is always the Luminaria Ceremony, held at dusk, where luminaria bags are purchased in honor of a survivor or in memory of a loved one lost to cancer. The bags are decorated with names, photos or other mementos to commemorate a loved one, then lit and remain lit overnight. Traditionally, participants at Relay will walk throughout the night around the track lit by the glowing bags of inspiration and hope.
Although a fall event is planned with exact date to be determined, Raymus says the group wanted to help make residents aware that the mission of the American Cancer Society, to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer, continues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Relay For Life is the world’s largest nonprofit fundraising event, so there will be a fundraising component to this event as well to help continue cancer research and patient services. People may go to the event’s website, www.relayforlifeorg/topofmittmi to purchase bags for $10 each. Bags should be purchased by Friday, June 5 in order to be guaranteed in the June 6 event. Bags will be made by volunteers and placed around Festival Square, then from 8-11 p.m., the public may drive through the square following the directional signs. Everyone is asked to remain in their vehicle to abide by social distancing.
Returnable cans or bottles will also be accepted from 8-11 p.m. that evening. A couple of pick up trucks will be marked for where to put the returnables, which should be in garbage bags and not loose.
A purple donation box will also be placed at the end of the route through Festival Square.
Besides the luminaria, which will remain up until 2 p.m. Sunday, June 7, other purple decorations and lighting will add to the mood of the luminarias glowing throughout the night.
“We hope people will “keep their love light burning” in honor of or in memory of a loved one and keep their passion for Relay For Life alive until the actual event can be held,” said Raymus. “In the meantime, we want our survivors and their caregivers to know that we are still and always there for them, and that the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour call in number 1-800-227-2345 and its website cancer.org are available 24-7, 365,” Raymus added. “Over 80 percent of the calls the society is currently receiving are questions directly related to COVID-19 and what or how a cancer patient can do to still get the help and treatments they need."
Raymus said cancer patients are at extreme high risk for contracting COVID-19.
“Please join us to honor our survivors and help keep our mission alive,” she said.
For more information, visit www.relayforlife.org/topofmittmi or contact Raymus at firstname.lastname@example.org or (231) 445-2471.