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Community readies to Relay!

By Richard Rourk

It’s fall in Unicoi County and that means it’s time for Blue Devil country to be painted purple for a great cause.

The American Cancer Society in Northeast Tennessee Drive-Thru Relay For Life and more are scheduled in Erwin, beginning on Thursday, Sept. 24. Volunteers across the Northeast Tennessee region are answering that call and shining hope in our local communities with the slogan “Hope Is Never Canceled: Light the Fight”. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, local Relay For Life events in 2020 have transformed into drive-thru luminaria tributes in the evening hours, cancer survivor “parades,” virtual Facebook videos and more.

Relay For Life of Unicoi County will have the 2nd Annual Bryon Wiggand Memorial Cruise In For A Cure and drive-thru survivor meal on Oct. 2 on Church Street with the Relay For Life Survivor Ceremony, Survivor Parade and Drive-Thru Luminaria being held Oct. 3 starting at Love Chapel Elementary School. 

At each event, luminaria bags will be on display and can be purchased prior to the event for $5. Cancer survivors and caregivers are encouraged to decorate their cars for their “celebration lap” through the tribute. Relay For Life and American Cancer Society events are all about togetherness, but the safety of our patients, survivors, volunteers and staff is always a top priority. 

“During this difficult time, cancer won’t stop, and neither will we,” Community Development Manager with the American Cancer Society Jessica Poff said. “Even though we cannot currently be face-to-face with our traditional Relay For Life and larger fundraising events, we’re committed to continuing to fight cancer head-on and hope that you will stand together with us, even when we’re apart. I am so proud of our volunteers, teams, sponsors, survivors, caregivers and community supporters who are lighting the fight with us. Hope is never canceled and we are here to remind others of that.”

Joining Poff for this year’s festivities are Relay For Life Chairwoman Lesa Buchanan and Co-Chairwoman Lori Ann Wright.

“We are very excited that Relay For Life has been adapted to keep COVID-19 safety in mind first and foremost,” Wright said. “Instead of the traditional large community-wide event at the track, we have scaled back to socially-distanced team events that still help us celebrate, fight back and remember, but from a safe distance apart.  All events were designed for social distancing. We encourage everyone to wear your mask and stay six feet apart.”

Be part of the American Cancer Society movement and continue to celebrate people who have been touched by cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action for lifesaving change. Join us this fall and continue the fight from home and be a part of the attack on cancer with the American Cancer Society. To be a part of any of the above mentioned events, please reach out to Poff at [email protected] or call 1-800-227-2345.