Relay for Life on track for 2020

Cancer survivors proudly entered the 2019 Richland-Wilkin Relay for Life. This year's event is not cancelled. Organizers say 'Heroes of Hope' will live on as a virtual event scheduled for Saturday, April 4.

It’s still possible to be part of the “Heroes of Hope” for the American Cancer Society.

The 2020 Richland-Wilkin Relay for Life is not cancelled. Organizers say it will live on as a virtual event scheduled for Saturday, April 4.

“We still want everyone to carry on with fundraising,” Event Lead Carol Poppel said. “We have had to make some changes to our plans, but our missions and goals remain the same.”

Here’s how the virtual event works:

• Every hour from 3-10 p.m., log onto Facebook and Instagram

• The Facebook page, “Relay For Life of Wahpeton, ND/Breckenridge, MN,” is located at https://facebook.com/WahpetonBreckenridgeRFL/

• The Instagram page, “AmericanCancerSocietyND,” is located at https://www.instagram.com/americancancersocietynd/

• Participants are encouraged to comment on videos as well as sharing their own videos and pictures

• There will be new activities and topics every hour

“Together, we will celebrate virtually by sharing our Relay in Place,” Richland-Wilkin’s Relay website stated. “Cancer does not stop and neither do we.”

Each year, countless Twin Towns Area residents raise money for the American Cancer Society. Twenty-one teams participated in the 2019 Relay, raising more than $78,000.

Relay for Life’s goal for 2020 is raising $100,000. The website for team registration and individual donations is located at RelayForLife.org/richlandwilkinnd.

“We’ve raised $22,093.18,” the website stated Monday, March 23. “(There are) 12 days left.”

Holding a virtual Relay for Life is a new experience, but organizers are looking forward to the change.

“We will simulate the event through interviews, videos of past events and testimonials from teams and committees on Relay for Life itself,” Poppel said. “During the event, we will share information about online donations or where checks may be sent to.”

Relay for Life’s mission continues through individuals team fundraisers, online fundraising available at the local Relay website, through Facebook and with the ACS FUNdraising mobile app.

“The 2020 Relay fundraising year does not end until August 31,” Poppel said previously. “There is a lot of time yet to meet your goals.”

As of Monday, 16 teams are participating in the 2020 Relay. A majority of the teams have already raised several hundred dollars for the American Cancer Society.

“If you have any fundraising planned that still allows for social distancing, continue to share it via social media,” Poppel said.

Heroes come in many forms, Relay for Life supporters remind the public.

“We have our superheroes, as well as our military heroes,” Poppel said previously. “We also have our people who have shown heroics against cancer.”

Relay for Life is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020. The event began in May 1985, when Dr. Gordon Klatt decided to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Washington, enjoyed marathons. He decided to walk around the track at Baker Stadium, the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, for 24 straight hours.

“Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him,” ACS stated. “He walked approximately 83 miles and raised $27,000 for cancer research.”

Following his successful fundraiser, Dr. Klatt thought about how other people could hold similar events in their own communities. Klatt, who had previously battled stomach cancer, died from heart failure at age 71 in August 2014.

“But his legacy lives on,” ACS stated. “He shaped an idea that started as one man walking and running a track and helped turn it into a global fundraising phenomenon.”

Money raised through Relay for Life goes to efforts including research, prevention programs and education and patient support programs.

“Through hard work, we will still have a successful year,” Poppel said.

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