The event is moving to the Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Elizabethton, 426 Tenn. Highway 91 in the Watauga Industrial Park. The times of the event and schedule remain the same, with the relay taking place from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Saturday.
Kathy Thomason, who has worked on the relays for many years, said there were several factors that went into making the change. She said the most important was that some of the relay participants do not have strong immune systems and there would be a risk of someone getting very sick from the predicted rainy conditions.
"Our survivors are our number one priority," Thomason said. "We are not going to risk their health."
She said another factor is the Carter County Relay's previous experiences with rainstorms. "Two years ago there was a terrible storm. It blew away many awnings and things that had to be replaced." She said there have been several other storms in the history of the local relays.
Thomason said it was decided not to reschedule the event because so many participants and volunteers plan the rest of their summers around the Relay. She said vacations couldn't always be changed. She said changing the date at this late stage would also be deflating to those who have put so much effort into it during the countdown.
One final consideration was the vendors who have purchased food products to support the relay. Thomason said some of those items would not keep until a later relay could be scheduled.
In a notice sent to other Relay for Life workers to notify them of the change, Charity Odom wrote that the challenge of the storms was representative of fighting cancer.
When you get the diagnosis, it is like a storm that changes everything, all plans. You have to adapt and move forward. While we know that we will have to make adaptions in order to accomodate, please know that this decision was make in order to keep everyone safe and preserve the meaning and significance of the event," Odom wrote in her email.
Thomason said the long-range forecast has the storm moving into the area later than the start of the relay, so the first few laps, including the survivor lap, the caregivers’ lap and the teams’ lap may still take place outside, going around the campus of TCAT.
"They have beautiful walks with flowers. We will try to get those laps outside if the weather allows," Thomason said.