The 2017 American Cancer Association Relay For Life Fundraiser will take place at the Florence Events Center on Saturday, July 22. This year’s event will begin at noon and continue until midnight.
Florence has a long tradition of strong public participation in this high-profile, national fundraising effort.
Relay For Life’s Community Development Manager Amy Bickleman talked about some significant changes to this year’s event.
“This year the committee is trying something new. The event has been moved from Miller Park to the Florence Events Center and will be a 12-hour event, from noon to midnight, versus the previous 24-hour event. We are very excited about these changes as we know that we must continue to keep the event fresh and exciting from year to year,” Bickleman said.
She said the new venue and timeframe allows the event to maintain the most important parts of the Relay For Life event: Ceremonies, celebrating cancer survivors, team fundraising and the Luminaria display, which is the largest
Moving the event indoors and shortening its length are two steps that the American Cancer Association has taken to revitalize the Florence event.
The past couple of years have seen declining participation and mounting local concern over the distribution of monies raised here and sent elsewhere.
Bickleman points out the money raised nationwide is used to support some local programs, but the majority of funds raised will be used statewide and nationally to assist cancer patients in a number of ways.
“Participating in events such as Relay For Life is an important part of the critical fundraising needed to keep this lifesaving work going. With over 4,000 events in the US each year, 99 percent of the funding for this critical work comes from Relay For Life events in communities just like Florence. By participating in this event, you are part of a global movement to end cancer and help us finish the fight,” Bickleman said.
The change of venue is the most significant difference that participants will be aware of.
According to organizers, the new location will be a benefit to the relayers and their support teams.
“We will have live music all day, food vendors, a silent auction, a wonderful Survivor Area and fun games and activities throughout the day,” she said.
Siuslaw High School’s cheerleaders will continue their tradition of volunteering during the event.
“Using the events center has proved to be a wonderful choice as we are able to make good use of both the inside and the outside areas to offer our participants a new Relay experience,” Bickleman said.
Relay For Life began in the USA in May 1985 when cancer surgeon Dr. Gordon Klatt spent 24 hours circulating a track in Tacoma, Wash., raising more than $27,000.
Since then, Relay For Life has become the largest fundraising event for cancer in the world.
“The money is used in many ways as we fight cancer from many angles,” Bickleman said.
Funds raised at Relay For Life events are used for cancer research, cancer education and awareness, free travel to and from treatments, free lodging during treatments, a 24-hour hotline, patient programs and help with insurance navigation.
“Sometimes, it’s just someone to talk to in the middle of the night,” Bickleman said.
There are numerous ways to help in the fight against cancer.
“Our mission is to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world free of cancer,” Bickleman said. “Join us as a team, participant, survivor, caregiver or just as someone who wants to help make this world free of cancer.”
For more information or to register a team, visit relayforlife.org/florenceor.