Seymour Relay For Life to go digital for 2020
By Josh Staloch
SEYMOUR – This year’s Relay For Life will have a new approach for an event with a long history.
Since 1985, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has raised more than $6.5 billion through its Relay For Life program, $161 million last year alone.
Since its inception, the Relay has become a mainstay in communities across the country, providing a community-focused approach to fundraising that brings attention and dollars to fighting cancer.
Local high school tracks typically host the event every summer, and participants make a day out of raising awareness one quarter mile at a time.
People won’t be able to gather by the hundreds and do laps side-by-side in 2020, so the Relay will be held in a virtual format for the first time ever.
For the most part, events related to this year’s Relay For Life throughout Wisconsin will be taking place on Facebook.
In Seymour, for example, the Relay will go online at 4 p.m. and is scheduled to go until 10 p.m. Aug. 1.
Heather Krawinkel, a community development manager with ACS in northern Wisconsin said the virtual format will be highlighted by hourly presentations, including an appearance by a local doctor and a cancer survivor from the area.
Krawinkel said the pandemic has all but halted cancer research in this country, as well as the ability to help those already dealing with the disease.
“COVID-19 has reduced our ability to fund cancer research by 50 percent in 2020,” she said. “This year will mark our lowest investment of the century if the current trend continues. Right now, 79 percent of cancer patients in active treatment are reporting disruptions in care. Without our help, they’re definitely facing cancer with less comprehensive support.”
Krawinkel said ACS is doubling its efforts to change the format to offer as much help to patients as possible, because support systems like transportation to treatment and lodging have been disrupted.
Though she said ACS hopes to get these services back up and running soon, it will require significant spending and nearly 500,000 patients could be forced to go without vital services as they engage in personal battles with cancer.
“This year’s Relay is definitely going to be a lot different than what we’re used to,” Kranwinkel said. “We’re encouraging teams to still get together and walk, decorate luminaria bags. Take a walk, take pictures. Do what you can while abiding by CDC guidelines. We can’t come together as a large event this year, but we encourage our team captains to get together with their families if they’re comfortable.”
People can still get involved in this year’s Relay For Life by going to relayforlife.org/seymourwi to participate and donate.
The event can also be found via Facebook @SeymourRelay.