By Drew Stambaugh
The 2020 Relay for Life of Fulton County is going virtual after the novel coronavirus pandemic caused the American Cancer Society to suspend all events through June.
“We elected to hold a virtual event to guarantee that we would be able to at least, at the bare minimum, celebrate our survivors, thank our caregivers, and remember those lost to this terrible disease,” said Amanda Bird, local event co-chair. “We wanted to make sure that we were able to have our main staples of our event – opening ceremonies, fun activities, and our luminaria ceremony, despite the unconventional and unexpected circumstances in 2020.”
Events will kick off Friday with the opening ceremony at 6 p.m. It can be viewed via Facebook Live on the Relay for Life of Fulton County Facebook page.
The virtual Relay for Life continues through Friday, June 19, when a luminaria ceremony will be held. A drive-thru option at the fairgrounds will be available as a viewing option.
Organizers are still hopeful they will be able to hold some type of in-person event later in the year. That could take the form of a craft or vendor fair.
“With so much unknown with the restrictions/regulations in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are not able to commit to a date and time for an in-person event until we learn more in the coming weeks,” said Bird.” We hope to still hold something later this year, as long as things continue to look up.”
In the meantime, residents can watch for information on what will be Fulton County’s belated 25th anniversary celebration.
The pandemic has not only impacted the in-person event at the fairgrounds, but also put a damper on funding.
“Many teams were unable to hold some of their fundraisers due to the stay at home order or cancellation of events,” Bird said. “We have had several teams take the challenge on and come up with creative ways to utilize social media in order to still raise the money needed for cancer research and patient programs. We are hoping to continue doing this in the coming months, so we can still do our part in the fight against cancer.”
Fundraisers that were canceled included Quartermania, T-shirt sales, March Madness bracket challenges, and bake sales.
During the virtual Relay for Life week, multiple week-long activities will take place, including fundraisers. There will also be luminaria sales to be included in the June 19 ceremony.
Organizers are also encouraging area residents to paint their porch purple as part of the celebration. Those who would like to participate can decorate porches or decks with purple lights and decorations to help celebrate the 2020 event.
Donations can be made via the Relay for Life website, www.relayforlife.org/fultoncounty.
Information can be found daily on the Relay for Life of Fulton County Facebook page and updates can also be followed by using the hashtag, #WhyIFultonCountyRelay.
Below is a schedule of events for the week-long celebration, highlighting the most important parts of the event – celebrating survivors and caregivers, remembering those who have been lost, and also fundraising to help find a cure.
June 12 – Opening ceremony at 6 p.m. via Facebook Live.
June 13-14 – Fundraising Challenge to raise $48 in 48 hours.
June 15 – Celebration Day: Honoring all survivors and caregivers on social media and sharing stories.
June 16 – Team Tuesday: Celebrate team captains and team members.
June 17 – Why I Relay: Share stories via social media as to why you Relay, using #WhyIFultonCountyRelay.
June 18 – Throwback Thursday: For the 25th anniversary of the county event, walk 24 minutes in honor of the original Relay 37 years ago and share favorite memories on Facebook.
June 19 – Luminaria Ceremony: Watch the virtual luminaria ceremony on Facebook at 9:30 p.m., share your luminaria names on social media, and also attend the drive-thru luminaria at the Fulton County Fairgrounds at 9:30 p.m.