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Relay for Life to return on smaller scale
There won’t be a traditional survivor’s lap this year at Relay for Life, but a scaled-down version of the event will take place in downtown McMinnville on June 5. Pictured is the survivor’s lap in 2019.

Relay for Life is returning to McMinnville on Saturday, June 5. Due to COVID-19, the event will be scaled down. 

Says organizer Carla Savage, “We didn’t want to go another year without it so we’re doing a smaller event.”

Relay will take place on the fountain side of Main Street/ Court Square from Citizens Tri County Bank to The Lot, the grassy area across the street from City Hall. 

“Main Street will not be closed,” Savage says.

Food booths will start selling fare at 5:30 p.m. and an auction, led by Donald Hillis, will take place at 7 p.m. Cakes made by Cynthia Gribble and Mary Blankenship, and bid on by the masses, have been a staple of past auctions, and they look to be a feature at this year’s auction. 

“People just go crazy for those cakes,” Savage says.

Following the auction the luminaria ceremony will take place, in which candles are lit in honor of those people who have survived cancer and in memory of those who have died. 

The names of the survivors and deceased will then be read aloud.

Says Savage, “Because of COVID we are unable to have the survivor dinner. We will be unable to have the survivor walk. We will have the survivor T-shirts available at the event.” 

Blood Assurance will also be on hand to collect blood donations. “If you’re a blood donor, please come and donate that night,” Savage says.

Luminarias, lanterns consisting of candles set down in sand inside paper bags, are for sale at a price of $10 each. Luminarias honor individuals who have survived cancer, have died from it, or are currently in cancer’s grip. Signs for the event start out at $25 and are good ideas for potential business sponsors. T-shirts will be for sale starting in early May, and the Moonshine Mountain cookie sale will take place in May too.

According to the American Cancer Society, Relay for Life’s affiliative entity, 73% of funds raised by Relay go to cancer “research, prevention, detection, education, and patient support.” The other 27% “fuel supporting services” that manage those programs.

Savage knows cancer well. Her father died of the disease, her mother survived it, and Savage herself is a cancer survivor who benefitted from a drug made possible by research. “I know what research drugs can do for you,” she says. 

Savage gives credit to local Relay for Life committee members and to Warren County writ-large for organizing and supporting the event, both this year and in years past. Savage says of the people of Warren County, “They have always been so giving, and it takes every one of us digging deep to support this event and to give to this event. We are just so appreciative.”

She also encourages folks who come to Relay for Life this year to wear a face covering and to observe other best practices in preventing the spread of COVID-19. “We feel that everybody’s ready to get out and do something, but we still want to be safe about it. We still want everybody to be conscious that this [the pandemic] is still going on.”

Those persons or businesses wishing to donate items to the Relay for Life auction or to purchase luminarias, T-shirts, or signs for the event can contact Savage at (931) 409-0695 or can contact any of the following Relay for Life committee members: Keri Morton, 474-1800; Cindy Rogers, 507-1422; Janice Stubblefield, 507-4118; Leanne Fisher, 473-3116; Karen Wilson, 668-4131; Jane Flatt, Mary Blankenship, Marlene Delong.

Of cancer Savage says, “It’s very few people in Warren County that haven’t had somebody in their life suffer from it.” Speaking of her own experience she adds, “Until you have something going on in your life, you don’t realize the love and prayers that come out of Warren County and the friendship that you’ve developed throughout the years that you just don’t even know about.”