Relay for Life for Pontotoc County hosted their annual American Cancer Society fundraiser Friday at East Central University's Norris Field.

"The sun is shining!" Holly Wheeler, Relay Co-Chairperson, said about the welcome break in a rainy trend in the weather.

"I've been involved in Relay since 1996," Wheeler added.

"We've been involved in Relay for a long time, since I was a kid," Trevor Sutton, Co-Chairperson and nephew of Wheeler, said. "It's a family affair."

The event was an abbreviated, scaled-down version of the more involved events in the past due to coronavirus pandemic concerns.  Restrictions on the event changed as the pandemic evolved and the American Cancer Society adapted.

Unlike the traditional 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. walking marathon, this year's event ran from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., but included many of the mainstays of the annual affair.

"It's a totally different dynamic this year," Wheeler said. "We don't have the teams out on the field raising money. But we are trying to incorporate a lot of what we normally do. We'll be recognizing the teams like we normally do, we're going to recognize the (cancer) survivors like we normally do. 

"We added in part of the Survivor Dinner, which we didn't have because of the pandemic. Santa Fe Cattle Company donated the food. Coca Cola Bottling Company donated all the drinks for survivors and caregivers. And we've gotten donations from all across town.

"We're still raising money," Wheeler added. "People are still coming out, bringing donations to the door. And we have a beautiful day to do this, and hopefully next year we'll be back to full scale."

"We have 15 teams registered right now," Sutton said. "We have 40 or so sponsors for the event. I'm excited that we get to come here and celebrate something and not focus on the negative, but really just lift people up in their hearts, to remember those we've lost, not the time we didn't get to spend with them, but the time we had with them."

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