Celebrating 30 years in Douglas County, Relay for Life will take place July 10

This year's event will be virtual.

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Last year, honorary survivor Austin Baune puts a Relay for Life flag up as Dan Weber and Madalyn Gimbel look on. Gimbel's grandpa, Bill Gimbel, was driving the truck. The flags were put up during the 2019 annual Paint the Town Purple event. (Echo Press file photo)

Despite COVID-19 and social distancing, Relay for Life is happening here in Douglas County. However, it will be a virtual event.

Although not all the details are hashed out quite yet, Lorene Pitcher, lead for the local event, is still excited about this year’s event as it marks the 30th anniversary of Relay for Life taking place in Douglas County. She said it is not only a milestone year for the local relay but also a milestone for the event itself.

It was in May of 1985 that Dr. Gordon Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, raising money to help the American Cancer Society with the nation’s biggest health concern at that time – cancer, according to the American Cancer Society website.

To celebrate the last 30 years of the Douglas County Relay, Pitcher said the Relay for Life committee needs the public’s help. They want to honor all the previous honorary survivors and are asking for the survivors – or family and friends of those honorary survivors – to contact them at or via the organization’s Facebook page, .

For this year’s Relay for Life, which is slated for Friday, July 10, Pitcher said the committee is working with Livewire Entertainment to broadcast the event over several different social media platforms.


She said Chelsea Lee will once again be the emcee, and Blonde and the Bohunk will be providing the music. There will also still be an honorary survivor featured at the event, as there have been in years past.

Luminaria ceremony to be held

The luminaria ceremony will still be happening, but it will just look a little different. As this event is still a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, people can still purchase luminaria.

This year, however, Pitcher said people are being asked to light their luminarias at home the night of the event. And as an added twist, she said people can take pictures and then submit them and they could be shown as part of the virtual event.

Luminarias can be purchased and picked up from three local businesses – Iverson Insurance, Integrity Title and NextStep Homecare.

“We are asking people to Light up Douglas County by placing and lighting their luminaria in their driveways, at their businesses, at their churches or wherever,” said Pitcher. “Each of those luminaria bags represent someone who has been touched by cancer.”

Although a specific time has not been set, the luminaria ceremony is being planned for dusk the night of July 10.

Still fundraising

Another fundraising activity for this year’s event was an online auction .


“We are still fundraising and the auction, as well as the other events, is interactive and fun,” said Pitcher. “I can’t stress enough that cancer doesn’t stop because of COVID-19. It doesn’t sleep.”

She added that because of the coronavirus pandemic, people have had to stop treatments, but funds still need to come in as there is a need to still provide services to people.

Because the Relay for Life is such an important fundraising event in Douglas County, Pitcher said the event had to continue.

“By doing it virtually, we can still be together by staying apart,” she said, adding that the 2019 Relay for Life in Douglas County, based on funds raised, was ranked No. 1 in the state for raising more than $207,000. Additionally, it was third in the 13-state north region and 66th in the nation.

“That just goes to show the great support we get from this community and we can’t thank everyone enough,” said Pitcher.

Paint the town purple

Pitcher said the Monday before the event, July 6, businesses are asked to decorate like they have in years past for the Paint the Town Purple event, and to leave the decorations up all week. Residents can also join in the fun this year, too, by decorating if they want, she said.

And, the Relay for Life flags will be put out along Broadway like they have in the past.

“We encourage everyone to participate,” said Pitcher.


More details about this year’s event will be shared in upcoming Echo Press articles as the event gets closer and all the details are finalized.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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