With attendance and the number of teams participating dwindling in recent years, and its annual season kick off event approaching, Highland County Relay for Life has decided to change the format for its biggest day for the first time since the event originated in 1985.
Rather than a two-day event that ran from 6 p.m. one evening to noon the next day, this year’s event will be held from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 at the Highland County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro.
“We sent a survey out to all the teams at the end of last year’s Relay to get their opinions and this is what we came up with,” said Angie Moots, this year’s Highland County Relay publicity co-chairperson with Michelle Meddock. “Attendance has went down. In recent years people would stay until the luminary event at 9:30, then everyone would leave and we’d have about 20 people left for the rest of the night.
“We’re hoping to generate more interest and get more families out when it’s a better time for them to participate in our activities.”
Organizers are also hoping that Relay teams have more activities for visitors attending this year’s main event.
For anyone wanting information on how to enter a team in the 34th annual Highland County Relay for Life, how to get involved individually, or just wanting to learn more about the event, the annual kick off meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 in the basement of the Hillsboro Church of Christ.
“It’s basically where we talk about our new theme – Relay Goes To Hollywood – have some snacks, and we will talk about some of the changes we’re making like having it on one day instead of overnight. It’s just an informational session,” Moots said. “It brings all the teams and anyone wanting to help out together, kicks off the year, and gives everyone an update about what’s going on.”
The public is invited. Anyone interested in creating a Relay team, or that would like to hold a fundraiser but can’t make it to the kick off meeting, can contact Cindy Wilson at [email protected] or 937-763-0637 or Melinda Daniel at [email protected]
In 2015, the Highland County Relay for Life raised $100,043 dollars, the first time in 10 years that it topped the $100,000 mark. Two years ago it raised approximately $90,000, and figures were not available for last year. The event had 25 teams in 2015, 19 teams in 2016 and 16 teams a year ago.
Other than the event being one day and the hope that there will be more activities, Moots said there will not be a lot of other changes except the time of day some things take place. For instance, there will be opening ceremonies followed by the introduction of local cancer survivors, a survivors’ lap, then a survivors’ lunch. It will all just start at 11 a.m. rather than 6 p.m.
“Relay for Life is a yearly event where family and friends can honor their loved ones who have fought the fight, who are currently fighting the fight, or who have lost the fight. This event is in coordination with the American Cancer Society,” Highland County Relay for Life said in a news release. “There are many ways that the American Cancer Society helps patients as they go through this journey. They offer lodging for patients who need to travel away from home for treatments, help with transportation to appointments, and conduct research to help find a cure for cancer.”
Relay for Life teams hold various fundraisers throughout the year, but the actual day of the Relay is the largest event. It all gets started with the Jan. 18 kick off meeting.
“Just come and join us,” Moots said. “We are looking for new members, it’s a good time, and it’s just a chance to support your loved ones as they go through this journey they’re on.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or [email protected]