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WATCH | Relay For Life to hold first in-person event since 2019

by Courtney Edwards | April 8, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
Adrian Perry, left, and Brenda Plummer discuss the upcoming Garland County Relay For Life event on April 14. – Photo by Courtney Edwards of The Sentinel-Record

For the first time since 2019, Garland County Relay For Life will hold its annual fundraising event.

Taking place from the Bank OZK Arena on April 14 from 6 p.m. to midnight, this year's event is being held a month earlier than it formerly was, said Co-Chair Brenda Plummer.

In "2020, we did a drive-thru luminaria, and then (in) 2021, we did a virtual luminaria," she said. "And '22, we didn't do anything, but this year we are doing 'Relay Re-United.' So, we're starting it back up, and (we're) quite pleased with the response from the teams and all for this."

"I mean, it's understandable that COVID impacted so many different avenues of life, and obviously, fundraising efforts as well," said Co-Chair Adrian Perry. "And so, we are excited to kinda get back in person because as Brenda alluded to, we tried, you know, drive-thru luminaries, virtual presentations, but there's a different impact when you're having hundreds of cancer survivors wearing purple shirts."

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With a goal of raising $50,000 for cancer research to go to the American Cancer Society, the organization had already raised more than $30,000 by Thursday with 18 teams participating. Although the fundraiser has previously had up to about 40 teams and raised up to $200,000, Perry expressed his pride in the amount already raised this year.

"I'm proud of the $31,000," he said. "I mean, the fact that we're starting back up, (it) honestly exceeded my expectations, and the fact that we still haven't even had our event yet, you know, it's really exciting that this $50,000 goal is totally attainable and achievable."

While the national organization was started in 1985, Garland County Relay For Life was started in 1998, Plummer said. Plummer and Perry have both been involved in the organization for about 10 years now.

"I didn't know that Relay For Life covers all cancers, not just breast cancer or prostate or whatever," Plummer said. "It's all of them, so therefore, anybody that has any type of cancer can get the benefit of the research that is done from the funds raised at these events."

A portion of the funds raised even gets used for research locally, Perry said.

"For example, in (University of Central Arkansas,) they had well over $1 million in funds go to that institute, and they were critical in developing thyroid cancer treatments and different ways to kinda attack that. And now, you have extremely high success rates of being able to cure it."

This year's event, with a theme of "Relay re-united," will start off with the opening ceremonies at 6 p.m., including a flag ceremony and a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner, as well as a prayer, Plummer said.

The survivor's lap will take place immediately after the opening ceremonies, followed by the caregiver's lap. Afterward, a representative of each team will take to the track, Plummer said.

At 9 p.m., the luminaria ceremony, in which premade luminaria bags will be lighted in remembrance of those who have died and to reflect on the journey of survivors, according to Garland County Relay For Life's website. Bags will still be available for purchase at the relay event for $5 each, Plummer said.

The Hot Springs Dance Troupe will perform after the luminaria ceremony, followed by games and activities for the rest of the night until midnight, she added.

"Say a business is interested, like, you know, 'Hey, I wanna check this out,' just come," Perry said. "Just come and tell your people about it, your friends, say your family, just come to the event, get a vibe for it, check it out, and if you're interested, we're gonna continue to have this in 2024 and the foreseeable future."

Print Headline: WATCH | Relay For Life to hold first in-person event since 2019


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