At this time of year, the Franklin County Relay For Life is typically gearing up to host its annual event in an effort to raise money and awareness in the fight against cancer.
This year, however, it’s having to make adjustments due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Wendy Wildberger, co-chair for the Relay, informed The Missourian that the event would not be held June 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
“The relay has been postponed to Sept. 19 of this year,” she said. “But it is going to be different than what we had originally planned.”
Wildberger explained that the American Cancer Society intends to host a virtual relay for the entire state of Missouri.
“Everyone who had planned a relay would be involved,” she said. “Basically, instead of hosting several relays, they would have one big one online.”
Details are still being worked out, she added.
“The plan is to email our team captains this week with new sponsorship packets and digital advertising information,” Wildberger said. “Announcements will be made through Facebook as well for the general public.”
The possibility of a ceremony or a virtual watch party for those who want to participate is not out of the question, she noted.
“Holding something in-person in September will be dependent on the community restrictions and the situation regarding the pandemic at that time,” Wildberger said. “But we (the Franklin County Relay) would like to tie in some in-person aspect to it if we can.”
While this is not the way organizers had intended this year to go, Wildberger said organizers feel the new format is better than nothing at all.
“The virtual aspect of the rescheduled relay is really neat,” she said. “I think it is a great opportunity for everyone involved to expand their network and grow together for the cause.”
Hero of Hope
At its first meeting in February, Tim Buchheit, teacher and theater director at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, was announced as the Hero of Hope for this year’s relay.
Buchheit was to be honored at the March meeting, which was postponed until May. Wildberger said organizers will honor him in a virtual way.
“A speech of him has been recorded and the plan is to post that online closer to the time (to the new scheduled relay),” she said.
This year is the relay’s 25th anniversary and with the fundraising goal is set at $110,000.
To date, the relay has raised $12,597 and fundraising continues.
“I encourage those who still want to be involved and donate to register on the relay’s website,” Wildberger said.
The postponement of the Franklin County Relay For Life also has affected the Jordan Scheer Memorial Children’s Relay For Life at Washington High School.
The children’s relay was originally scheduled for April 24, but with schools closed it was rescheduled to be held in conjunction with the Franklin County Relay.
“This event is unfortunately in the same situation as so many others. While we certainly would have loved to roll everything out as planned first in April, then June, that simply was not an option,” Wildberger said.
WHS teacher Allison Graves said “Just like any other major event, we’ve sought direction from our school and local government leaders who are trying to keep everyone’s health and best interest in mind.”
Graves said the school will continue that same process regarding the new date that has been set in September.
“Much depends on the status of school and community events in the months to come and the availability of our staff and student leaders to organize and participate in large gatherings,” she said.
Franklin County Relay For Life will continue to stay in communication and work with the children’s relay organizers to see how they can be involved in the rescheduled date.
For updates or for more information on the Franklin County Relay For Life, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/relay.franklinmo/.