Mother Nature’s thunderstorms forced the postponement of last month’s 2019 Relay For Life of Platte County, but organizers aren’t letting the expected heat do the same.
“We were all looking forward to it; we had it all in place. Everything was perfect, so we were pretty disappointed,” said Suanne Boswell, one of the members of the event’s leadership team.
But now the 23rd edition of the Relay For Life of Platte County will officially take place from 6-11 p.m. today at the Columbus High School track, 3434 Discoverer Drive, almost a month after its originally intended date.
Relay For Life is the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, and staffed and coordinated by volunteers in thousands of communities and 27 countries, according to ACS. The event specifically is a team-fundraising effort in which participants take turns walking around a designated path for an extended period in honor of all who have been affected by the disease. The mission is to raise funds for research of a cancer cure and to support services provided by the ACS.
“We’re excited and we’re a little nervous because it’s going to be really warm outside,” Boswell said.
Indeed, Mother Nature is bringing the heat. Scott Dergan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Omaha/Valley, said Columbus residents can expect to feel warm while outside tonight.
“It’s going to be pretty hot and humid,” he assured.
Dergan said it will be close to 97 degrees in Columbus when the event commences but noted it will feel like 110 outside. By the time things finish up, at 11 p.m, it will cool down to 85 but still feel like 90.
“Don’t overexert it,” he said.
Relay organizers have taken measures to keep people cool and comfortable tonight with help from several local businesses. Big Iron Realty has donated an air-conditioned trailer that will give people the chance to go inside and cool off when they would like. There will also be about a dozen canopies on-site, Boswell noted, and Behlen Mfg. Co. donated a 30-foot misting station.
Additionally, Hy-Vee has donated a large supply of water so people can get as many free drinks as they need.
“We’re just trying to do everything we can to combat the heat,” Boswell said.
Boswell, along with fellow Relay leadership team members Robbin Cutsor and Lindsey Rosno, all said they’re appreciative of the people and businesses in the community who have and continue to make the annual event successful.
Dergan was encouraged when learning of the efforts local organizers had taken to keep people cool tonight but stressed those who plan on attending should start hydrating long before they get to the track.
“Keep the fluids going because we lose fluids pretty quickly,” he said.
As for the event itself, the opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m. and be followed by survivors/caregivers recognition and laps around the track at 6:45 p.m.
The night will also feature a variety of entertainment, such as the silent auction that runs from 7-9 p.m. Organizers had to adjust some of the original entertainment plans due to scheduling conflicts with the new date, but things worked out well.
“We’re still going to have all of the activities,” Cutsor said.
There will be performances by the Columbus High School Diamond Dancers (7:30 p.m.), Heartland Gymnastics (8 p.m.) and a concert by Columbus’ own Chris Robbins (9:30 p.m.), as well as time for Relay Bingo (7:30 p.m.) and “Minute To Win It” games (8 p.m.).
The night will also see the lighting of luminaries (9 p.m.) that can be purchased for $5 apiece and be dedicated to a loved one lost, someone currently battling or anyone who has overcome cancer.
“It’s just a great way to spend a Friday night,” Rosno said. “I think in addition to supporting those people we all know and all love who have been touched by cancer in some way, we also have some fun entertainment things that will be going on.”
Tonight won’t be the first time Relay For Life was held during extreme heat conditions. Boswell recalled similar circumstances for the 2012 edition that took place in the Lakeview area, noting there was still a good turnout despite the 100-degree day.
“We’re hoping that rings true again this year,” Boswell said.
Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.