MERIDEN — Falcon Field was to be the venue for this year's Meriden-Wallingford Relay for Life event next month.
Organizers and an expected 40 relay teams had hoped to meet, wearing purple T-shirts and waving team banners, to commemorate the 25th year since Relay for Life began. The local event would have been one of numerous relays held across the country to raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
However, with public gatherings restricted organizers opted to cancel the in-person event scheduled for May 29.
But organizers are still hoping to stay connected to their communities and celebrate the strides in the fight against cancer, explained Wendy Matthews, president of the local Relay for Life effort.
“Obviously, we're impacted by COVID-19,” Matthews said. “Our whole entire Relay for Life season is usually throughout May and early June. So we're exploring all sorts of virtual opportunities...”
Some local Relay chapters have opted to postpone and reschedule later in the year, while others are holding virtual events.
“These communities still want to give back,” she said. “We're grateful that they're standing with us and for everything they're doing to help keep the cancer fight in the forefront.
“The reality is cancer patients are highly vulnerable right now,” Matthews added. “Cancer patients are immuno-suppressed. If they get COVID it could be a dire situation.”
Patients and families have also had to make difficult choices about treatment as the COVID-19 situation continues. Some have had to postpone or forego treatment. Not all hospitals are able to continue to treat cancer patients in similar ways.
A national Facebook fundraising challenge that benefits the American Cancer Society is underway.
The three-day fundraiser began on Wednesday and continues through today. National organizers have set a fundraising goal of $500,000. More information about the local Relay for Life can be found at relayforlife.org/mwct.
Meanwhile, organizers are still planning an event on May 29. It will likely be a motorcade of cars driving by the addresses of team members who would have participated in the relay.
On Saturday, the American Cancer Society will host a nationwide virtual celebratory relay. According to the organization, the event, which starts at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, will include an opening ceremony, survivor lap and recognition for caregivers. More information can be found by visiting https://bit.ly/2JXYnQQ.