Future uncertain for Mineral County Relay for Life

Barbara High
Tribune Staff Writer
Cancer survivors take the ceremonial first lap at the 2019 Mineral County Relay for Life event. Relay for Life officials say Mineral County can hold an event this year, as long as they follow COVID guidelines. No one has yet stepped up to chair an event, however.

KEYSER - Mineral County Relay for Life has been a long standing event for our area; one that has garnered a lot of volunteers and support over the years.

With teams coming back year after year, the faces have become familiar to many. Now some of those faces are changing, however, and the event is not yet scheduled for this year.

In addition, just like most all other community events, Relay for Life has been facing an uncertain future due to COVID-19.

Last year, the community fund raiser was cancelled due to the pandemic. This year, according to organizers, the event can still be held - with specific COVID guidelines.

According to Holley Durham of the American Relay for Life, the events are allowed to take place as long as they follow the CDC guidelines and take a few extra specific precautions to protect the survivors and others. Masks must be worn at all times, and social distancing must be adhered too.

For example, Durham said there can be one survivor and one caregiver at a time in the area, all tents must be spaced 10-12 feet apart, masks are required when participants are walking the track, and the pace must be six feet apart. Tents will have teams together who are normally around each other, but masks are still required.

Durham said that the website is up and running for Mineral County, www.relayforlife.org/mineralwv, and it is open for teams to sign up if they want to start raising money or if they want to plan an event.

The Frank Mace Memorial Car Show, one of the major fund raisers for Mineral County Relay for Life, will be held as usual this year; it was not held last year because of the virus. Anyone wanting to sign up and submit money can do it at this time, says Durham. The only thing that is not set up is the event itself.

Ramona Hanlin, who has headed the event for the last few years, has stepped down as chairperson due to health reasons. As of this date, no one has yet stepped up to take her place.

Durham says she has not had anyone sign up either for the event committee, which plans, organizes, and picks the date for the event.

"I mean things are doing really well with getting West Virginians vaccinated and it’s cleared to have an event if there is some of the former committee, or new people that want to plan,” she said.

Dutham says all they need to do is contact her.

Margie Reel has been a long standing team leader and part of the committee as well.  She told the News Tribune she wasn’t aware that they had opened  Mineral County back up to have an event, and thought that if so, they would be contacted. She said she plans to speak with her team, and is open to organizing this year’s event.

Durham says if that role is filled, then a Relay for Life Celebrations would be held this year after last year’s hiatus.

Anyone wishing to contact Holley Durham can call 304-767-4500, and anyone wishing to turn money in can do so online or if paying by check send it to American Cancer Society P.O. Box 42217, Cincinnati OH 45242.