Cancer patients and survivors, their families and even caregivers typically gather for photos during the annual American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Canal Winchester-Groveport.

But this year, a purple and white photo booth in front of Faith United Methodist Church, 15 W. Columbus St. provides a backdrop for survivors and others to raise awareness about the disease that's estimated to claim more than 600,000 lives this year alone in the U.S., according to the cancer society.

Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, organizers of Relay For Life Canal Winchester-Groveport decided to hold a virtual daylong event Saturday, June 27.

Instead of teams gathering at the Canal Winchester High School track, the event will be held on Facebook, @CWGroveportRelayforLife.

"We were fortunate enough to know early on from ACS that our event wasn't going to happen in person," event co-chairwoman Amanda Rogers said. "We've really relied heavily on our social media presence, and so far, it's worked for us."

Organizers have developed several pre-event activities, including a Spirit Week, (which began June 22 and ends Friday, June 26), scavenger hunt, games and an online version of the popular Miss Relay contest, which features men dressed in women's wear who are introduced to music and answer pageant questions.

A 60-minute video that includes honoring cancer survivors will be streamed on Facebook at 7:30 p.m.

"We've asked everyone to email us a picture and tell us how long it has been," said Rogers, a cancer survivor herself. "That's really what Relay For Life is about, because without the survivors, we have nothing."

Organizers would like to raise $30,000 but do not expect to reach that goal, Roger said. As of June 17, the event had raised more than $12,000.

According to the American Cancer Society, 73 cents of every dollar raised through Relay For Life events goes directly to research, prevention, detection, education and patient support.

The rest -- about 27 cents of each dollar -- funds ACS programs.

About a dozen teams are registered for the virtual Relay For Life, which is down from previous years. However, more individuals are participating, Rogers said.

One tradition that will continue at CWHS is the luminaria display honoring those whose lives have been touched by cancer. Rogers said vehicles can drive through the parking lot from 9:45 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. Vehicles will enter on Dietz Drive and exit onto Washington Street.

Luminary bags can be purchased online through the event's website, relayforlife.org/canalwinchester-groveport.

"It's always done at the end of the night," Rogers said. "It's always very emotional and has a special place in everyone's heart."

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