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Relay moves indoors

— Organizers are gearing up for the area’s first indoor Relay for Life event, set for mid-May in the Okanogan County Fairgrounds Agriplex.

A meeting of the Relay for Life Committee will be at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Eagles Lodge, 1820 N. Second Ave. A meeting for team captains follows at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting is open to anyone interested in the American Cancer Society fundraiser, or in joining or forming a team.

The May 17-18 event’s theme is “Rockin’ a Cure.”

Organizers said the move from the Okanogan High School track, where the event has been since beginning in 1994, to the Agriplex will allow the event to go on, rain or shine.

Even though it’s been in mid-May all along, the weather often is rainy and windy. In 2006, the event was cut short because of a storm.

“We’re hoping that this will be a better change for people,” co-chairwoman Cheral Montanez said. “It’s rained on us so many times, it really puts a damper on everything.”

Another change is going to a Saturday-Sunday format from the previous Friday-Saturday time.

The event is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Saturday and will continue until Sunday morning.

The Relay will include live music, on-site fundraisers, games and other events. Team members can set up their tents inside or outside, or can bring RVs, she said. Full hookup will be available for a fee.

Instead of candles in the luminaria, organizers plan to use lighted glow sticks since the luminaria ceremony will be indoors. If the weather cooperates, the doors will be opened so some memorial bags can be lit with real candles, Montanez said.

Overall, organizers are anticipating the event “will be a lot more fun.”

She praised the Okanogan School District for hosting the event for so many years at no cost. The county is charging for use of the Agriplex.

Relay for Life is the largest fundraising event in the nation, the American Cancer Society said.

Teams of eight to 15 members raise money, collect pledges and walk overnight.

The local goal is to raise more than $56,000 to support the society’s goals of research, advocacy, education and program services.

Cancer survivors also are recognized.

Last year’s event drew nearly two dozen teams and raised about $60,000.

So far, five to 10 teams are signed up for this year’s event, but there’s still plenty of time to form or join a team, Montanez said.

“Instead of wishing, people can do something” if they have a loved one or acquaintance suffering from cancer, co-chairman Roger Montanez said.

Locally, the Relay has raised nearly a half-million dollars over the years.

From September 2010 to August 2011, Relay money provided 300 services to 83 county patients through gas and lodging vouchers, and the Look Good, Feel Good and Reach to Recovery programs.

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