Relay For Life of Greater Golden Triangle shares tentative plans to move cancer fundraising event

Published 12:19 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020

COVID-19 has led to the rescheduling of the Relay For Life of Greater Golden Triangle this year.

In previous years hundreds of people would descend on Bulldog Stadium in Nederland, where they would constantly make laps on the track and cancer survivors made their own lap of honor.

Inclement weather caused the event — normally held at the end of April — to move to Beaumont.

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In recent years the American Cancer Society merged the Mid and South Jefferson County event to a more inclusive Jefferson County title then last year the Hardin County one was resurrected thus forming the Relay For Life of Greater Golden Triangle, Taryn Bienvenue, AMS community development manager, said.

The event is now scheduled for Sept. 26 and will be held at the Beaumont Civic Center in Beaumont.

Bienvenue said organizers anticipated some backlash for moving the event indoors but planning an event one year in advance in Southeast Texas is quite difficult. And now there is a pandemic to worry about.

“It’s so difficult, we don’t even know if September will work for us,” Bienvenue said. “The event is all about the survivors, and if this event (COVID-19) is still happening we don’t want our survivors gathering in a group.”

The plan is take it day by day. The original fundraising goal is still $350,000.

But if things don’t go as planned, Bienvenue and others are working on a plan b.

“We are trying to figure out different ways if the event can not happen. A lot of nationwide events are gong virtual but virtual is not what this community needs right now,” she said. “A lot of people are worried. I’ve very worried too. I don’t wan to put anybody’s life at risk for an event.”

Fundraising and program changes

Nationwide, there was a 3-day fundraising event that raised more than $250,000, showing that people are still willing to donate, she said.

“Cancer doesn’t stop just because of coronavirus. It is still being diagnosed, people still need treatment,” she said.

COVID-19 has caused some changes.

“The wig program will now go to vouchers so patients can go online and obtain a wig, that way they don’t have to come into the office,” Bienvenue said. “That’s one thing the national organization is looking at. I don’t believe locally we have received any vouchers yet but are hoping by the end of May.”

Another change is with Hope Lodge, which gives cancer patients and caregivers a free place to stay when the patient is undergoing treatment out of town. These special lodges are now open for first responders to stay in during coronavirus thus giving them a god night’s rest so they won’t worry about going home and contaminating the household.

Transportation for patients to get treatment is also on old temporarily, she said, adding that when this is over with them there will be a need for volunteers.

The local teams do a lot to help raise funds and part of the 2017 American Cancer Society contribution went to the 5Point Credit Union Hope to Cure Grant for research.

In addition there is a local team ranked fourth in the nation in fundraising for pediatric cancer — it’s called #goldtogether. This group raised $10,841 and 100% of proceeds from that team go directly to pediatric cancer research funding as well as support service, awareness and cancer prevention efforts targeting children.

The 2020 Relay For Life theme is superheroes and September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, she said.