Friday is a big day in Billings for the 22nd annual Relay for Life of Yellowstone event, but this year things look much different. The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has relay-goers making laps around one of the city’s busiest streets instead of at the track at West High School.
The goal this year is to raise $500,000 for the American Cancer Society to fund cancer research and support local survivor programs such as the Road to Recovery, which provides rides to and from treatment, a free real hair wigs program and the Look Good Feel Better program. Last year the organization raised more than $600,000.
Community members are invited to decorate their cars purple and cruise the luminaria-lined route during the street edition of relay anytime from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.. Event organizers have gotten very creative this year with several socially safe drive through donation opportunities along the 1.5 mile route on 24th Street West from Grand Avenue to Monad Road. Participants are also asked to post pictures on social media with the hashtags #RelayCruise and #RelayForLifeYC.
“It is critically important to practice a socially distant relay during the pandemic as our survivors have weakened immune systems,” says Relay for Life of Yellowstone Event Co-Chair Vicki Olson Johnson.
More than 400 survivors are registered for the event and you can view their survivor luminarias on St. Johns Avenue, which has been renamed to Survivor Avene for the day thanks to an official proclamation from Mayor Bill Cole.
For more information, visit www.yellowstonerelay.org.