WYALUSING BOROUGH – “It’s about supporting cancer survivors, the people who have not made it, and the people that are still fighting,” said Beth Brown, of Wyalusing, an annual attendee of The Relay for Life of Bradford County.
On Saturday evening, four months after its originally planned date in June, organizers were able to host a safe event that abided by COVID-19 guidelines that still provided attendees with a sense of comfort and hope for a cure to cancer.
The event began with a brief opening ceremony followed by the fifth Jan Bouse Stoddard Memorial Sunshine Award given by her family.
Savannah Earle, of Wyalusing, was there to honor Jan, her grandmother, and take part in giving the scholarship award. “Mostly everyone in our family comes every year, and we do the award together for her,” she said.
The Relay at Wyalusing borough park began at 5 p.m. and went until 9 p.m. It was at first going to be a 12-hour long event with more activities, but this year they stuck with the basics for a good Relay: opening and closing ceremonies, a survivor/caregiver walk, and the luminara ceremony.
“It means a lot to me,” said luminara team member Sherrie Smith, “I do it one-hundred percent, and I do it in memory and to honor my mom who passed away in 2013 from colon cancer.”
Smith said the luminara team is a group of friends who all love someone whose lives have been affected by cancer, and they come together every year for the Relay to do their part in finding a cure.
The luminara committee sold bags for donations at the borough park starting at 2 p.m. Each luminary bag displayed the name of a loved one whose life has been affected by cancer in one way or another.
Luminara team member Natalie Staron said that the bags sold on Saturday evening were leftover from a drive-by ceremony on Sept. 3.
The luminaries were lit around 7:30 p.m., and attendees were welcome to walk by the bags lining the fence or look from their cars in a drive-by.
“The first ribbon is in purple in honor of Timmy Ward, who is the honorary chairperson of the event,” Staron said, “He has hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is represented by purple.”
Purple t-shirts were sold at the event, and the corresponding theme was “Ready! Set! Go! For a Cure.”
After the purple ribbon was lit, the word “hope” appeared, spelled out across the right side of the field in lit luminara bags.
“The next ribbon full of lights will fluctuate through 16 different colors to honor each of the different cancers,” Staron said.
On the opposite side of the field was a surprise pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. Attendees weren’t expecting a pink ribbon, as breast cancer is usually recognized in June. This was one of the ways that organizers helped incorporate an idea they had for the originally scheduled Relay.
Many community members came out to show their support, including the Leo Club from Wyalusing High School. They held a booth where they sold caramel apples, glow-in-the-dark face paint and t-shirts for the Relay.
Beth Trowbridge, a mathematics teacher at the high school, credited the students of the Leo Club for stepping up and participating in the event, especially with the ongoing changing of plans that come with the pandemic.
Student Bryannah Fenton said, “This event is really special because even with everything going on, we still have problems that we are trying to solve.”
“It’s about raising money for people that have cancer, and we’re all having a lot of fun while doing it. I’ve been enjoying fundraising with the Leo Club, listening to the spin choir, and everyone else that’s been performing tonight,” said student Carolyn McAllister.
Student Tana Belcher said that the event was a great place to talk about cancer, and find out how to help.
Further information about Relay for Life can be found on the American Cancer Society’s website.