Relay for Life goes for the sun



June 1, 2017 - 12:00 AM

They’ve spent years raising thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Society through the dark of night.
Saturday’s annual Allen County Relay For Life, conversely, will have plenty of “Fun Under the Sun.”
The annual relay kicks off at noon Saturday at the courthouse square.
Up to now, each relay started in the evening, concluding 12 hours later, usually around sunrise.
“We’re trying to attract more people,” explained event leader Denise Smith, with the hopes that the daylight hours will bring more to partake in the myriad relay events.
As of Wednesday, seven teams, consisting of more than 100 walkers, have signed up for the relay.
The mechanics will remain the same.
Each team must have at least one member walk the route around the square — in case of rain, the event will shift to the Recreation Community Building at Riverside Park — for the entire 12 hours.
And as always, there are plenty of other activities to keep folks entertained.
A variety of games and activities, including several inflatable attractions, will run through the afternoon, before the focus splits at 5 p.m. with a survivors’ dinner at Calvary United Methodist Church, at the intersection of Jackson and Walnut streets. (Yes, the teams must keep at least one walker active during the dinner.)
After the dinner, a ceremony honoring survivors will take place at around 6:30.
Immediately thereafter, Moran’s Lloyd Houk will sing until a benefit auction gets underway at 8 o’clock.
Humboldt’s Ross Daniels has volunteered his auctioneering services as part of a benefit auction. Among the items up for bid are a trip for two to Las Vegas, gift certificates and coupons to area restaurants worth over $200, a GoPro camera, tool set and other gift baskets.
The luminaria ceremony, featuring lighted candles in honor or in memory of those afflicted with cancer begins at 9:30.
The relay ends with a flourish, featuring games and a scavenger hunt leading up to the closing ceremony at midnight.
WHILE IT’S always a powerful and emotional event for many, this year’s relay is particularly emotional for Smith and other organizers.
Iolan Saundra Upshaw, one of the key figures in past relays, will be honored with a giant pinwheel. Upshaw died Saturday.
“It’s going to be incredibly tough,” Smith said. “She was always the top when it came to luminaria sales, and she was such a delight to work with.”
Other pinwheels will be sold to recognize caregivers of those affected by cancer, as will the luminaries.
SMITH thinks interest will grow as Saturday nears.
She continues to accept phone calls from folks wishing to participate or donate to the cause.
She also continues to accept reservations for the survivors’ dinner. She can be reached via phone or text at (620) 496-5488.
PROCEEDS from the Relay For Life benefit the American Cancer Society and are used to fund cancer research.

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