Relay for Life

Cancer survivors, caregivers, family and friends release white dove balloons during the 2019 Washington County Relay for Life Event at Lions Park in Blair.

A different month and a changed event is what people will find for the 20th annual Washington County Relay for Life.

Originally scheduled for June 26, Washington County Relay for Life will now be Oct. 18 at the Kennard Auditorium, according to Cindy Breitkreutz, a member of the Relay for Life committee.

"Our attendance was low how we were doing it, plus it was hard for our survivors to come to an outdoor event in the heat," she said. "We wanted to make sure our survivors are able to come."

Their first change was to book the building which was formerly South Creek Wedding and Events, 715 Grant St. in Blair, and host the survivor's meal and a band. South Creek Wedding and Events closed in January after the building was vacated by former business owners and renters Nick and Kelly Jo Yaksich. The couple was arrested in March on felony theft charges after allegedly taking thousands of dollars from engaged couples and area organizations while operating the venue.

"Even before the coronavirus, we were stuck with a venue change and loss of deposit that could have been used toward finding a cure," Breitkreutz said.

They found space at the Kennard Auditorium. Breitkreutz said when they canceled the College World Series, the Relay for Life committee decided to push their event to October.

"We are going to keep it low-key," she said. "With local businesses losing money, we recognize that they're hurting this year and we don't want to ask them for more donations.”

Breitkreutz said there will be a silent auction and hopefully an online event for the auction, where people will pick up items at the relay event.

"We will still have survivor meal, and after dinner listen to the band play and enjoy the evening," she said. "We will still do some type of luminarias and honor survivors, even though it won't be the traditional luminary ceremony."

The event faced different challenges last year.

"Last year, it was the floods,” Breitkreutz said. "This year they thought it would be an awesome year.

This year we were going to kick off this new event, it's going to be completely different for all Relay for Life counties. We're going to get people to come, it's going to be wonderful. Then the coronavirus changed things."

Breitkreutz said the event is open to the public and everyone is welcome.

"We need to honor our survivors," she said.

Relay for Life is an annual celebration and fundraiser for cancer awareness.

When it originally began, the event was a 24-hour long relay, in which teams of different sizes took turns walking on a track continually for 24 hours.

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