Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life hosts kickoff event

Published 11:15 am Wednesday, February 13, 2019

BUCHANAN — Early this week, residents of Niles and Buchanan got out of the cold and into a tropical mindset, while also working to fight cancer.

Monday evening, the Niles-Buchanan Relay for Life hosted a kickoff event at First United Methodist Church, 132 S. Oak St., Buchanan. As the theme of this year’s event is “beaches,” the kickoff featured themed games and snacks, and attendees learned more about Relay for Life and its goals and fundraisers.

“We are deciding to kick out cancer with a fun beach theme,” said Janet Wartman, senior manager of Relay for Life. “[Monday’s event] gets people introduced to what we do and really kicks off the 2019 Relay for Life.”

The annual Relay for Life will take place from 10 a.m. to midnight July 13, at the Apple Festival Grounds, 1740 Lake St., Niles. The event is free and open to the public to attend, though donations will be accepted. Proceeds will support the American Cancer Society, which, in addition to cancer research, helps to fund Berrien County programs that help cancer patients. Last year, the event raised $34,000. This year’s goal is $35,000.

Though the 2019 Relay for Life is still months away, Wartman said that having a kickoff event now is important to raise awareness for the event.

“Cancer doesn’t sleep, and neither do we,” she said. “We get people excited all year long. It’s a good way to keep people abreast about what is going on and to get people excited about where their help is needed.”

A five-time cancer survivor, Wartman said she knows first-hand the effect cancer can have on individuals and the good that the funds raised through Relay for Life can do for cancer patients.

“Cancer is so much out there, and so many do not know the services we offer,” she said. “When I was diagnosed with my first cancer, I didn’t know where to turn. [Through Relay for Life], we keep people aware, so that if someone says, ‘I have cancer,’ people know what to say and how to help. We have a whole slew of volunteers that can help.”

In the months leading up July’s Relay for Life, Wartman hopes to continue to build excitement and cancer awareness through additional events. She said that she would encourage anyone to get involved with the program.

“It’s a great event, and everyone is welcome,” she said.

Other events and fundraisers leading up to Relay for Life include:

• Nerd Alert Trivia — March (date to be determined), Lehman’s Farmhouse, 204 Red Bud Trail N., Buchanan

• Murder Mystery Dinner — April 27, Buchanan American Legion, 403 E. Front St, Buchanan

• Colors of Cancer Run — May 18, location to be determined