Relay for Life of Columbia County, which has been going on in Columbia County since 2003, is coming back for another year on July 27 at St. Helens High School.
According to its website, Relay for Life, “is American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser dedicated to helping communities attack cancer.”
The event consists of different teams, who, in Columbia County, usually sign up for the event in December or January, according to Janice Hartman, Event Chair. The teams then raise money before attending Relay, usually held in July. Hartman said the teams can raise money in many different ways, either by directly soliciting, or by doing things like holding car washes or other fundraisers.
This year, Relay has raised $17,000 altogether, with the top team earning $6,000, according to Hartman. Hartman said that they have 12 teams signed up this year, which is a lot less than previous years.
“Our very first year, I believe we had 12 or 13 teams. But we’ve had like 30 teams registered in the past,” Hartman said.
The American Cancer Society gave Relay for Life a target for funds raised this year, which they did not meet, Hartman said. That target was approximately $30,000, according to Hartman.
“That means less support from the American Cancer Society. That means less staff support,” Hartman said.
Hartman said she wishes there was a stronger driving force behind participating in Relay for Life, because Hartman believes its services benefit Columbia County.
According to Hartman, funds raised from Relay for Life directly benefit Columbia County residents, in the form of giving people gas money, or rides to treatments, or money for lodging during treatments, as well as other services for people battling cancer.
The event will take place on July 27, starting at noon, and will go for 18 hours, ending at 6 a.m. the next day. Teams camp on the football field at SHHS, and, except for the luminaria ceremony, are expected to have at least one member of their team walking on the track at all times.
The luminaria ceremony, Hartman said, is a ceremony in remembrance of those who have lost their battle with cancer, and in honor of cancer survivors. It takes place at 10 p.m., and everyone does an honorary lap around the track.
“We’re doing a reading and then we light certain colored candles at different parts. It takes about 40 minutes, and it’s a silent time,” Hartman said. “The rest of the time at the relay we have no lights, we just light up luminaria bags that people purchase, and that’s the rest of our relay.”
There will be other events at Relay in keeping with the carnival theme, Hartman said. These include at least five bouncy castles, a photo booth from InRoads Credit Union, an art project from Tumblewheel Studios, a silent auction, as well as events at each of the tents. There will also be cotton candy for sale, as well as ice cream from Below Zero. Local law enforcement will be present throughout the event. Prior to opening ceremonies, there will be a brunch to honor cancer survivors at 10 a.m.
Anyone who wants to attend the event will be able to, and participation is free, Hartman said. Individuals do not need to join a team. Participants will have to sign a waiver the day of the event.
Relay July 27-28. 12 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Survivor registration: 10 a.m.
Brunch: 11 a.m.
Opening ceremonies: 12 p.m.
Carnival: 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Silent auction: 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.