By Faith Miller

Ever since the shutdown caused by the coronavirus, fundraising organizations have been finding new ways to raise money and connect volunteers and donors. The American Cancer Society’s (ACS) well-known fundraiser, Relay For Life, has found new, innovative ways to help those who need it.

At the beginning of the coronavirus shutdown, Relay For Life was on the verge of putting on hold almost all of their in-person events, including more than 30 regional events and fundraisers that raise money that ACS puts towards research and patient services throughout the year. But that’s not the only downside the organization has faced during shutdown.

“The suspension of our events caused our volunteers and survivors a lost chance to connect face to face with the community,” stated Tammy Schoonover, an employee of ACS.

However, with hard times comes growth. ACS has recently adopted a new mantra, “Cancer hasn’t stopped, so neither can we.”

“It’s this attitude that emboldens the effort and fueled our drive to utilize virtual possibilities,” said Schoonover.

This pandemic has caused the organization to grow and adapt, gaining “a better sense of the resiliency” of the volunteers, partners and supporters. The company is continuing to provide “all the core objectives of [its] mission,” which includes the funding and support of research and the ability to provide the services needed, despite COVID-19.

An example of this would be the East Coast Relay For Life, a virtual event that included ‘Relayers’ from Maine to Miami, that took place on June 26. The company personally called and invited 60,000 supporters to make sure the event was a success. ACS and Relay For Life have also held virtual dance parties, virtual 5K events and much more across the nation as fundraisers to replace the ones that were canceled.

According to Schoonover, just recently in Tampa Bay, it held a “one-hour Facebook Live presentation in partnership with Tampa General Hospital” joined by a panel of medical experts where they offered advice on how to handle COVID-19.

An event that is coming up is a nationwide event called ‘Share the Light’ and it is set to take place on Thursday, July 16. The organization is also currently mapping its plans for its fall events and is planning on making an announcement in the near future.

It is closely paying attention and following all CDC guidelines because “the safety of our volunteers always will be paramount,” stated Schoonover.

For more information on the American Cancer Society, visit cancer.org or call 1-800-227-2345. To keep up with what ACS is doing in Florida, visit the ACS Florida Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanCancerFL.