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Relay For Life set for June 28 in Chinook


Two north-central Montana counties have banded together to bring back the Relay for Life Friday, June 28, after last year’s unexpected cancellation.

“I think it’s great,” committee member Donna Tilleman said. “I can’t wait, not to say that we haven’t had a few bumps in the road getting to this point, but I’m excited to see it come back, and hopefully we’ll build on this and just keep growing.”

Relay for Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society and is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in thousands of communities in 27 countries.

Cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally, and in 2018, was responsible for about 9.6 million deaths. Globally, about 1 in 6 deaths are due to cancer, the World Health Organization website says.

The American Cancer Society Facts and Figures for 2019 says that in Montana an estimated 5,920 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year.

The money raised through the local Relay for Life event stays in Montana, assisting with cancer research, sponsoring education and prevention programs and helping cancer patients and their families with travel and other expenses.

This year’s Relay for Life will be held at Hoon Field in Chinook with volunteers setting up at noon, said Tilleman, who works for the Havre Daily News. They are still looking for volunteers, she added.

The Chinook Chamber of Commerce has donated a tent, tables and chairs for the event and they will need help setting up.

People interested in volunteering should contact Tilleman at [email protected] or 265-6507.

Opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m. with events lasting until 11:45 p.m.

“I can’t believe it’s just a little over a week away,” she said.

She added that she is excited to see how many people will attend and see everyone participating again in the relay. This year will have many of the same games and activities as they had in the past for the relay such as the Scrabble Lap, Water Balloon Toss and the Luminary Ceremony.

Traditionally the luminaries were weighed down by sand, to prevent them from being caught in the wind and blowing away, but this year people should buy canned food to weigh the luminaries down, Tilleman said. After the relay, the canned food will be donated to food pantry in Chinook.

Luminaries will also be for sale the night of the relay until 7:30 p.m., to give enough time to enter the names and put together a spreadsheet for them to be read at the ceremony at 10 p.m., she added.

The event will also have a barbecue at 5 p.m., she said. Plates will be $5 and cancer survivors will be able to eat for free. She added that survivors who have not registered yet can come the night of the relay and get registered and receive a free shirt. T-shirts will be free to anyone who raises more than $100, the shirts will also be $10 to purchase and free to survivors. Tilleman said that they have a limited number of shirts.

She said that this year they have more than eight teams registered for the relay, with many of the teams holding fundraisers at and before the event to raise money. One of these fundraisers will be in Havre. The Bullhook Medical Center team’s rummage sale fundraiser, Tilleman said, will be held this Saturday in the health center parking lot.

Three of the Chinook teams have also teamed up to host a poker run the day after the relay, she said.

She added that they have raised a little more than $11,000 so far and hope that after the relay and the other fundraisers to have raised more than $15,000.

“To me, it’s not really about who raises the most, because we are all raising money for the same cause. It’s not a competition between this team and that team who raises the most,” Tilleman said.

She said that the committee has been working with the American Cancer Society during this process to organize the relay, but the American Cancer Society has a number of relays to help across the state. She added that, in the future, the relay will continue with the local committee members, who are volunteers, survivors of cancer and people who have had family and friends who battled cancer.


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