Two nighttime community walks are honoring cancer victims and survivors, raising funds for research through local Relay for Life chapters.
Starting Friday, the Shenandoah County chapter will hold its all-night event from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. at Massanutten Military Academy, 614 S. Main St., Woodstock. On June 8, the Warren County chapter will hold its evening event from 4 p.m. to midnight at Skyline High School, 151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal.
“Anyone is welcome to come,” said Whitney Minnick, community development manager in charge of the Shenandoah County event. There’s no fee or pre-registration to attend, she said. Many people sign up as part of a team, but that’s not required.
The family friendly event will include food trucks from Tony’s Pizza in Woodstock and Big Rig BBQ in Strasburg, activities for children, entertainment by the New Market bluegrass band Thrashen Holler, and an area church praise band later in the evening.
For the first time since the event started in 1996, she said its survivor dinner will be on a different night – at 5:30 p.m. today at the Woodstock Moose.
The dinner will feature food donated by Rutz’s BBQ.
About 200 people have RSVP’d for the dinner, but while the deadline was last week, Minnick said, “We’re not turning anyone away.”
She said the chapter decided to hold the dinner on a different night so diners would have time to enjoy the evening without rushing to make it to the opening ceremony afterward.
“We’ve had a really great response to that,” Minnick said.
Warren County’s banquet for survivors and their caregivers is also held ahead of their Relay walk. The banquet will be from 6-8 p.m. Monday at the Front Royal Fire Hall, 221 N. Commerce Ave.
Organizer Aimee Nuwer said the event has been on a separate night for at least the last five years as a way of offering a controlled, comfortable environment for diners.
“It’s a time to come together with people who have been touched by cancer,” said Nuwer, the senior community development manager for Relay events in Warren, Fauquier and Frederick counties, the City of Winchester, and at Shenandoah University.
It’s a chance to say, “Yes, me too. That’s happened to me.”
RSVP to Alice at 540-636-7270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional tickets are $10 per guest.
The Relay For Life movement is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser, the organization notes at www.cancer.org. The international effort is the No. 1 funder of cancer research after the federal government, Minnick said.
In addition to raising money for research, Minnick said the Shenandoah chapter funds services for cancer patients, survivors and their families. They host programs throughout the year, provide free rides to cancer treatments, and work with hotel partners in Harrisonburg and Charlottesville so patients and families traveling for treatment can stay for free.
The Shenandoah County Relay will hold its opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Friday, honoring those affected by cancer and those who have contributed to the success of the year’s Relay efforts.
The survivor/caregiver walk begins at 6:15 p.m. and the luminaria ceremony begins at 9 p.m. Each light represents a life taken by cancer, a survivor of cancer, or someone still fighting the disease.
The walk continues until the closing ceremony at 6 a.m. Saturday.
“We typically have about 400 people at the Relay event,” Minnick said.
On June 8, Warren County’s event begins at 4 p.m. with its opening ceremony, followed by the survivor/caregiver walk, the luminaria ceremony, and the midnight closing ceremony.
Nuwer said the chapter scaled back its walking hours three years ago after overnight participation decreased.
“A lot of people leave at midnight,” she said. Now the event ends at midnight, so participants can attend the closing ceremony.
“We got rained out last year, but the year before it went well,” she said. This year, she expects about 250 attendees and said the chapter is on track for its best year yet, thanks in part to Wednesday night bingo fundraisers at the Front Royal Fire & Rescue.
She expects the chapter will hit $200,000, which is double last year’s total and “the most money they’ve ever raised.”
The event will include children’s activities, a deejay and food sold by Relay teams.
This year, a Gold Together Team of teachers and parents from Hilda J. Barbour Elementary School will be walking for pediatric cancer in honor of a student with cancer. At the event, the student will be honored as a superhero.
For more information on the Shenandoah County event, search Relay For Life of Shenandoah County on Facebook, call Whitney Minnick at 540-434-5818 or email email@example.com. Contact the American Cancer Society at Relay For Life of Shenandoah County, 420 Neff Ave., Suite 210, Harrisonburg, VA 22801.
Bingo fundraiser nights in Warren County start at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays at the Front Royal Fire & Rescue. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
For more information on the Warren County event, call Aimee Nuwer at 540-451-0211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact the American Cancer Society at Relay For Life of Front Royal-Warren County, 124 Park St. SE Suite 100, Vienna, VA 22180-0699.