The annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society symbolizes the journey a cancer society goes through from the darkness of diagnosis to the sunrise of recovery.

Due to another disease, this year’s Neosho County Relay was a virtual version of the symbolic event.

“It was an interesting year,” Relay co-chair Sherri Watson said. She and co-chair Diana Washburn work on the event every year.

Because of the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, organizers put together a 35-minute video and encouraged families to have watch parties. When the outbreak hit in force, Relay for Life organizers did not know what to expect. The fundraising had a goal of $56,000, close to last year’s total, with 14 teams signed up. Watson said they had started to sell luminaries recognizing victims and survivors to be placed around the relay track.

Instead, Neosho County Community College was shut down and ACS cancelled live events through June. Watson said a lot of time was lost during the stagnant period.

They set a revised goal of $25,000 and raised funds online and through the mail.

“Obviously, we were somewhat disappointed to be as low as $25,000,” Watson said, but the new goal has been reached. “To have that much generosity come about in these hard times, we’re just really thankful and thrilled. Neosho County has always been exceedingly generous.”

The video is posted on YouTube at on the American Cancer Society Kansas City channel. Watson said narration explains the significance of the relay, and the video includes a segment to recognize cancer survivors.


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