SLOAN COLUMN: The fight against cancer goes virtual
This Saturday would have been a big night at Freedom Florence Recreation Complex. There would have been food, fun, games, entertainment, luminaries, a survivor’s walk, and hundreds of supporters completing laps in memory or in honor of cancer victims or survivors.
No, the annual Relay for Life of Florence County and similar events around the nation planned for Saturday will not take place due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But just like the brave and valiant individuals recognized during the events, organizers are not about to give up the fight against cancer.
The national Relay for Life organization will hold Relay USA, a virtual experience Saturday on the national Relay For Life Facebook page.
“Relay participants and even those not registered are invited to join this celebration,” organizers stated in a post last week. “Relay USA will feature the traditional elements – opening ceremony, survivor lap, caregiver recognition, and a luminaria ceremony – in an all-virtual experience. While COVID-19 has brought a level of uncertainty to events across the nation, Relay USA is our opportunity to stand together even when we are apart.”
The Relay USA event will begin at 4 p.m. Visit www.facebook.com/RelayForLife/ for more information.
According to Community Development Director Chinel Boateng, the Florence County chapter of Relay for Life is planning a “Spirit Week” filled with virtual activities April 27 through May 2.
On Monday, a Showcase the Sponsors will take place where sponsor track signs will be displayed in yards around Florence County. Photos of the signs will be posted on the organizations’ Facebook page, www.facebook.comRFLflorencecountysc.
On Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. a Heroes of Hope event will take place. Supporters are being asked to create a video, a livestream post, or a written post and photo highlighting the story of cancer survivors or caregivers and posting it to the organizations’ Facebook page.
On Saturday, organizers are encouraging supporters to walk where they are anytime from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. A Lawnminaria ceremony will take place from 8 to 9 p.m. Supporters will take the bags and candles representing the honorees they are responsible for and light them in their own yards. They are encouraged to video the scene and post it to the organizations’ Facebook page.
“We cannot allow the virus to stop our battle against cancer,” said Boateng. “The fight must go on. I know this is a difficult time, but there are still many people out there who are willing to support cancer research to help end this horrible disease.”
Boateng said that as soon as the virus has passed and things begin to return to normal, a live event would be scheduled for later this year.
According to the Florence County chapter of Relay for Life web page, $40,279 in donations had been collected through last week. The organization’s goal for this year is $130,000. Last year the organization raised $123,000 for the American Cancer Society.
Boateng also works with Relay chapters in Darlington, Marion, Marlboro and Dillon counties. She said Marion and Dillon counties are planning Spirit week events for the week of May 11-16. Darlington County’s Relay for Life event is scheduled for October.
For informationor to donate to a Relay for Life event in your area, visit www.relayforlife.org and click on the “Join A Relay” link. You may also call Boateng at (843) 245-8538.
All of us know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Many of us of have lost loved ones to the dreaded disease. I have a stepmother who has battled valiantly for many years. Now in stage four – again – she began radiation and chemo treatments a week ago. My Momma Loa is one tough old broad.
Whether it is cancer or coronavirus, the “C-word” cannot win as long as we maintain a fighting spirit.
Support your local Relay for Life.