Relay For Life seeks input for event

MIAMI COUNTY — The Relay for Life of Miami County’s annual event will look a bit different this year. In compliance with widespread restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization will host a new type of gathering, called Hope Fest 2020.

Event co-lead Nicole Bolin said organizers of the event are seeking to gauge interest in a survivor meal, which is traditionally provided at Relay For Life events.

“We’re trying to get people to RSVP to the survivor meal so we know if we will be able to have that portion of the event or not,” she said. “We want to get a certain response back so we can make the most out of our event.”

The meal will consist of a sandwich, side, water, and ice cream. To make a reservation for a survivor meal, email Bolin at nitshikki@gmail.com, or by calling (937) 570-0315. Reservations are due by Aug. 4.

Set for Saturday, Sept. 12, Hope Fest will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. According to Bolin, the location details are still being hashed out and will be announced closer to the date of the gathering.

“We want this to be a type of drive-in event because with the American Cancer Society guidelines, only 20 to 30 people are allowed out of their vehicle at one time,” Bolin said.

This drive-in event will include an opening ceremony from 5-5:15 p.m., the Luminaria ceremony from 5:15-5:45 p.m., a caregiver/remembrance ceremony from 5:45-6 p.m., and a closing/recognition ceremony from 6-6:30 p.m.

Attendees will park their cars in a designated spot from which they will be able to view/hear the ceremony without exiting their vehicles. Survivors who will be picking up a boxed meal are asked to arrive early in order to ensure meals, along with survivor gift bags, can be distributed in time for the ceremony to begin at 5 p.m.

“Anyone is welcome, whether they are survivor or have one in their family or not, anyone is welcome to attend, as always,” Bolin said. “For those who don’t get the free meal as survivors will, we’re asking that they bring their own snacks or meals so everybody can enjoy a meal together in their own car.”

Though circumstances are much different this time around than in previous years, Bolin said organizers for Relay For Life of Miami County, along with the American Cancer Society, wanted to make sure this event continued on.

“It’s really been a struggle for us, as with everyone else, and we’re trying to still find a way to honor the survivors and the people who have been affected by cancer, and honor those who have raised money for the American Cancer Society,” Bolin said. “We want to be able to do that and fit in the guidelines. If people have to stay in their car, they can still listen to us just so they know that we’re there and we care about them — they matter and we still want to keep everybody engaged.”