Sports

Aroostook Relay for Life holding virtual 5K

CARIBOU, Maine — The Aroostook Relay for Life — an annual event in which teams come out to the Caribou High School track to raise money for the American Cancer Society — would have been celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The June 20 event has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers are instead hosting a virtual 5K race on the same date.

Jordyn Madore, a co-chairperson for the Aroostook Relay For Life who is responsible for organizing the virtual 5K, said the traditional relay scheduled for late June was canceled because of not only state guidelines, but also as a result of guidelines set by the American Cancer Society.

As of May 26, Madore said she hopes to hold an in-person event this fall, but that it is too early to say what the guidelines and/or restrictions would look like at this point.

Those interested in participating in a fall event can register in the same way as previous events, by going to relayforlife.org/aroostookme and registering their teams.

Madore said a separate registration is required for the virtual 5K, and anyone interested in joining can do so by visiting www.bit.ly/aroostookrelay5k.

“The virtual 5K is similar to a traditional 5K,” she said. “You can register on our event website, and we will mail the race bib, finisher’s medal, and event material straight to your door. We also have pickup options for folks who live local to Presque Isle.”

What differentiates the virtual event from a traditional 5K is that participants can complete the race however they see fit.

“You can run it,” she said, “or you can walk it. We have folks doing it on their elliptical and some mapping out how long their driveway is and walking up and down. It really makes it more accessible to people of all ability levels.”

Participants are also free to complete the 5K at any point before June 20. Madore said someone could even choose to complete it the afternoon after they register..

“But on June 20,” she said, “we want to make it feel a bit like the traditional Relay for Life, so we’ll be doing an afternoon of ceremonies and activities and things that people otherwise would have witnessed at the track. We’ll have the survivor ceremony, the luminaria ceremony and the team roll call event.”

The event will be broadcast live via both the Aroostook Relay for Life and Aroostook Relay’s Virtual 5K Event Facebook pages. Links to the livestream will be available on the event page.

Because the traditional relay has been either postponed or canceled in all participating locations, the American Cancer Society is planning a virtual event on June 7 called “Hope From Home,” which highlights Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.The online event will be hosted primarily via Facebook and feature live and pre-recorded videos while encouraging viewers to interact and post their own comments, photos and videos.

People can participate in the event by visiting www.bit.ly/RelayHopeFromHome.

American Cancer Society Executive Director for Community Development Louise Santosuosso emphasized in a press release that cancer has not stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, and neither will the American Cancer Society.

“Relay For Life is all about togetherness, but the safety of our patients, survivors, volunteers and staff is always a top priority,” Santosuosso said. “So, even though we cannot walk side-by-side right now, everyone around eastern New England can stand together with us online for Hope From Home. Everyone who joins will be inspired and entertained.”

Overall, Madore said she and staff at Aroostook Relay For Life are working hard to continue fundraising efforts to help those struggling with cancer.

“Cancer patients and families need the services provided by the American Cancer Society now more than ever,” she said. “They still need lodging and treatment, which is now less accessible and more expensive. If nothing else, there is a number [1-800-227-2345] on the cancer.org website that people can call; it’s so important for people who are stuck in their homes and don’t know if they can leave, or what is safe. Those services are funded through our efforts; we’re still able to provide comfort and guidance for folks who are stuck inside.”

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