Standing together even though we’re apart: How Relay for Life is going virtual

Many upcoming individually and organizationally sponsored Relay for Life events were forced to cancel due to the outbreak of COVID-19. In place of these local events, the American Cancer Society has created an online event that will be live-streamed on April 25. 

The American Cancer Society will be using Facebook and YouTube to hold a virtual, national Relay for Life, which they have been advertising as Relay USA. The online event will take place at 4:00 PM EST, and will be available through their Facebook page (@RelayForLife) and their YouTube channel (Relay For Life).

While having an online ceremony won’t be quite the same as an in-person, 12-hour-long event, the American Cancer Society is making sure that participants will still get to “enjoy all the traditional elements [they] love, from the opening ceremony and survivor lap to caregiver recognition and a Luminaria ceremony,” according to their website. 

In addition to the traditional parts of the ceremony, participants will be able to connect in other ways. They can share their stories about why they Relay, hear more about how fundraising works and what it means to the American Cancer Society, share their survivor stories, and more during the event.

Bloomsburg University’s own Relay for Life was forced to cancel in compliance with the university’s decision to transition to online learning and the government’s decision to undergo social distancing measures. Even though this decision was made with everyone’s safety and well-being in mind, the news was still disappointing to many students. 

23 teams, 108 participants, and two other Greek Life organizations were already registered for Bloomsburg’s Relay for Life. This event was to take place at five PM also on April 25. The student organization that plans Bloomsburg’s Relay each year, Colleges Against Cancer, had set a goal to raise $40,000 this year. Last year, they had raised over $34,000.

Registration took a major hit with the event being canceled nearly a month early, and the majority of each year’s total comes from donations on the night of the event. But despite obvious setbacks, Bloomsburg’s Relay for Life still managed to raise $5,658.21 by the week of the originally scheduled event. This total, along with any other funds raised before this Saturday, will still be donated directly to the American Cancer Society. 

Participants in the virtual Relay USA experience are also encouraged to set up a fundraising page if they would like, either for themselves as individuals or for a team. While face-to-face fundraising, celebrating, remembering, and Relay-ing has come to a halt, the American Cancer Society is working hard as ever to raise awareness and funds for everyone affected by cancer worldwide. 

For more information about the virtual Relay USA experience, and to access the official Facebook page with event updates, click here. To register yourself as a fundraiser, or to donate to any individual or team effort for Bloomsburg University’s Relay, click here.

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