To make up for the water-logged occasion, Relay for Life of Bradley County will host a summer event this year for the first time ever.
The event, dubbed the Hope Festival, will take place Saturday, July 20, at the Tri-State Exhibition Center from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Angela Mathis, senior community representative for the American Cancer Society’s Mid-South Division, said the event will allow participants another chance to enjoy the event with less fear of rain and raise money for the cause.
“Teams can come and do what they were going to do had it not rained,” Mathis said.
The Hope Festival will feature some of the same festivities that were scheduled for the May event as well as some new ones. The parts of the event recognizing cancer survivors and caretakers of people with cancer will take place again. People will also be able to get haircuts to donate hair to Locks of Love, participate in a live auction and listen to live music by the Dexter Thomas Band and other local acts. There will also be activities for kids, and Bradley County Fire-Rescue crew are set to be there with their vehicles.
The event is meant to have a festival-like atmosphere, and Mathis said even more activities are being planned and will be announced closer to July 20.
While she said it was great to see people enjoying the Relay For Life events together, she also stressed how much money gets raised for the American Cancer Society’s programs for people with cancer and contributions to cancer research funding at the events.
The Saturday of a Relay for Life event, which generally runs from a Friday night until late Saturday afternoon, brings in the most donations of the two days, she said. With only a portion of the usual event attendees present at the rained-out event at Cleveland High School, this year’s local fundraising goal was not reached.
“We probably lost at least $20,000 Saturday,” Mathis said. “We are further behind than we’ve ever been.”
Mathis said around $135,000 has so far been raised of the $255,000 fundraising goal for the fiscal year ending on Aug. 31.
In order to drive home the prevalence of cancer in America, Mathis shared some statistics. She said 1 in 3 women and about half of all men will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, meaning cancer affects many people in the community because they are likely to know someone who has had the disease.
Being able to fund cancer research is why Mathis said she cares so much about the financial numbers.
“Without funds, we will never cure cancer,” she said.