ESSEX JUNCTION — Relay For Life of Chittenden County has officially exceeded its fundraising goal of $65,000, raising $65,980.24 nine days before the event and increasing its goal to $80,000.
This is the first time in two years the event will return to the Champlain Valley Expo for an “almost normal” four-hour version of what was planned before the COVID-19 pandemic, Nicole Jorgensen, co-leader of Relay For Life of Chittenden County, said.
The event is shorter than in past years because it’s about getting the foundation stronger to build a better event for next year, co-leader Tanya Walker said.
“We’re all in this re-build to set the energy and the stage to continue our growth, through 2023, and that momentum to carry on and fight back and really come back strong for next year so we can have a longer event and add more bells and whistles,” Walker said.
Relay For Life is a 35-year-old community-based fundraising movement for the American Cancer Society, according to its website. The organization has community-led events in over 20 countries.
“Funds raised through Relay For Life directly support breakthrough research, 24/7 support for cancer patients, access to lifesaving screenings and much more,” its website states.
The beginning of the event is a celebration of everyone’s fundraising efforts and coming together as a community. Then participants will remember and honor those who have been touched by cancer and at the end, the event is the fight back against cancer.
“Everyone's been touched by cancer somewhere somehow and it’s time to bring all of everyone’s efforts to celebrate, in four hours,” Walker said.
Before the 6 p.m. opening ceremony, general festivities begin at 2 p.m. with a performance from Sonic Steve and the Jambulance, according to the entertainment and activities schedule.
The four hours following the gate opening will include arts and crafts, a poster content, miniature golf led by Peter Miller, words from survivor speaker Suzanne Johnson and comedian entertainment.
Home Depot is contributing to creating a cancer color walk which will proceed at 7:30 p.m., where people can walk around flowers planted with all the colors that represent different cancers, Walker said.
Event-goers can also find a Ben and Jerry’s Scoops truck before Turn 4 from 7:30-9:30 p.m.
As of June 15, 170 people signed up to participate and 39 teams will be hosting fundraising efforts on the day of the event.
There is no registration deadline for the event and no fundraising requirement, Jorgensen said.
“If you haven’t had time to register, show up,” Walker said. “Just enjoy the moment and catch that fever of ‘this is really happening.’”
Event-goers can support the cancer society by supporting the teams who are hosting fundraisers and by purchasing a luminaria bag for $5. The bags can be decorated for a person’s loved one or in memory of them, Walker said.
In the past several years, Relay For Life of Chittenden County has raised around $60,000 and the most successful event was in 2008 with 1,000 participants, 120 teams, and $418,000 raised, Jorgensen stated in an email to the Reporter.
For more information on the event and how to contribute, community members can visit the Relay For Life of Chittenden County VT Facebook page.