November 30, 2022

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Watertown fairgrounds hosting Relay for Life Friday | Community Giving

WATERTOWN — Teams from across the tri-county area will gather at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, 970 Coffeen St., from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday for the North Country Relay for Life in Watertown.

At last count there were about 25 teams signed up to participate, according to Donald J. Boshart, senior community development manager for the American Cancer Society, including teams that previously participated in the Lewis County Relay for Life and some newly formed teams.

Due to decreasing participation, the county events were consolidated into one for the entire northern region.

Since the late 1980s, Relay for Life has been the largest community fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Relay for Life started when Dr. Gordon Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Washington, walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money. His idea caught on, and eventually cities, towns and villages across the country and the world started forming teams and staging their own relays and raising millions of dollars.

At the North Country Relay for Life, events will include opening ceremonies, a parade of teams and activities at the tents and will conclude with a luminaries ceremony. Each team will set up an area to raise funds through raffles, games and activities.

Meanwhile, each team is expected to have at least one member walking the track for the entire event. There are also special laps to honor cancer survivors and caregivers.

The luminaries ceremony, which involves decorated bags in honor or in memory of someone battling or lost to cancer is the touching traditional conclusion to Relay for Life. Luminary lights may be purchased ahead of time by emailing [email protected]

Each year an honorary survivor is chosen to be a keynote speaker at the event. Donelle Thompson, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 14 years ago, is this year’s honoree.

Lewis County teams — Team Faith, Myers N’ More, Team WooHoo, Lowville Academy Faculty and Connect for a Cure — are taking part in the North Country Relay event along with Hastings Family from Carthage and the newly formed Black River Elementary No S’more Cancer.

“I had heard we, Black River Elementary, had a very involved Relay team years ago,” said Shawna Rich, captain of the Black River team. “Relay is near and dear to my heart, and I figured forming a team at the school would be an amazing avenue to raise funds and to have an avenue of positivity. As we all know, we transitioned back into a full time school year and it has been trying in several ways. Having something that is light, positive and the opportunity to raise money for something that effects everyone’s life in one way or the other.”

Elementary school staff, friends and family comprise the No S’more Cancer team.

Ms. Rich encourages the public to attend Friday.

“It is so uplifting and fun, and occasionally emotional, she said. “The luminary ceremony is so moving and beautiful.”

Prior to the event, the No S’more Cancer team “stormed the parking lot for change one morning,” had a Coins for a Cure event at the school and sold Carthage Comets shirts with a lavender ribbon.

The team will decorate their Relay for Life site as a campsite and we will be selling S’mores along with tickets for a fire pit, kayak and cornhole board raffles.

For more information about the North Country Relay for Life or to enter a team, visit

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