Norfolk’s annual Relay For Life fundraiser is set to take place again virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Event planners had to make the difficult decision to upgrade to a week of virtual events last summer due to local health guidelines. This year is no different – the event will be almost the same with a few changes, said Anita Larson, Co-Chair of the Norfolk Region Relay For Life.
The American Cancer Society announced before the start of 2021 that there would be no in-person events, including Relay For Life fundraisers across the country.
“They made that decision before the vaccines,” Larson said. “In general, when it comes to honoring survivors, if they have been treated, they have weakened immune systems, so we also want to be cautious and make sure we take care of them.
The festivities will kick off on Saturday June 5 at noon, with this year’s biggest change – the addition of an online silent auction. It will run until Monday, June 14 at 6 p.m.
Bob Cheney, Co-chair of Relay For Life for the Norfolk area, said the organization wanted to attend last summer’s event but ran out of time as the pandemic progressed.
Members are also looking forward to once again hosting the Care-A-Van event, which is the only semi-in-person gathering of the week, Cheney said.
Cancer survivors and caregivers are encouraged to meet in their vehicle on Sunday, June 6 at 1:30 p.m. in the Premier Senior Marketing parking lot at the corner of Benjamin Avenue and Riverside Boulevard. At 2 p.m., the group will travel a specific route lined with cheering friends, family and members of the public.
“If we can get a few more survivors at Care-A-Van, it would be great to involve some people in this area,” Cheney said.
The rest of the week, from Monday June 7 to Saturday June 12, will be filled with themed virtual activities and challenges. Residents will be able to post photos, take monetary pledges to walk a specific distance, and write personal stories online.
The Norfolk Relay For Life goal is to raise $ 50,000. The group already has $ 19,858 on Tuesday.
Last year’s goal was $ 30,000 as it was the organization’s first virtual event. He was able to achieve this goal at the end of the week. In 2019, the goal was $ 65,000 and the one-day event raised just over $ 39,000.
Larson said that although the number of teams has declined over the past few years, team members continue to host Relay For Life events because of the importance of supporting cancer survivors of the region. The organization’s various planning committees typically start working in October to organize the fundraiser, which is in its 26th year this summer.
“The main thing I usually hear is a thank you to the Norfolk Area Relay For Life for continuing their efforts, as over the past few years many additional fundraising events have grown up around Norfolk” , she said.
Larson said she hopes the pandemic has helped people get used to the events online so there is more attendance this year.
Survivors are encouraged to register for the event online at relayforlife.org/norfolkareane. Members of the public can keep up to date with event updates on the Norfolk Area Relay For Life Facebook page.
“Anything we can collect will go towards research and help support survivors and those undergoing cancer treatment and recovering. Every little bit helps make a difference, ”said Larson. “We all try to push as hard as possible.”