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Local Relay for Life to hold a joint event with Chesterfield

Local Relay for Life to hold a joint event with Chesterfield

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Local Relay for Life to hold a joint event with Chesterfield

Volunteers put out luminaria bags ahead of the 2020 Relay for Life event. The Powhatan and Chesterfield groups joined forces temporarily then but have since officially combined into one event.

POWHATAN – Relay for Life participants in Powhatan and Chesterfield counties are going to be joining forces on a more permanent basis moving forward in the fight against cancer.

Instead of having two separate groups, organizers have joined efforts to become Relay for Life of South of the James, with plans for one joint event moving forward, said Stephanie Pugh, senior development manager with the American Cancer Society. 

While both teams usually held their events in the spring, the joint event will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Westchester Commons in hopes that more restrictions will be lifted by then to allow a fuller event. Currently, the event is scheduled for 4 to 9 p.m., but organizers recognize much could change between now and September, hopefully for the better.

“Both events have been around for a while, and it was just the perfect opportunity to bring all of our resources together to enhance the event experience for participants,” she said. “We were able to combine our event leadership team, which helps out all around, and merge our teams, which creates a better experience for everyone involved. It is also more exposure for our sponsors in both communities.”

The two teams successfully came together in September 2020 to put on a luminaria event that worked really well and planted a seed, Pugh said. This year’s event will be the first since the two localities officially merged into one event.

“I think they saw what it is like having more hands working on one event, so it was an easy decision from there,” she said. “And with the event being at Westchester, it is a perfect central location for both communities.”

The event as it stands right now is starting with the basics, and as it gets closer and more activities may be allowed, organizers would love to expand it, said Pat Johnson, event lead. People will once again be able to purchase luminaria bags in honor or in memory of someone. Organizers want to have an opening ceremony, an opportunity to honor survivors, and a closing ceremony. If restrictions continue to lift, they can consider adding in more offerings.

While it is difficult to confirm too much when the event is so far away and anything can happen in a pandemic, organizers will work hard to bring back as many traditional elements of Relay as possible, because they know how important they are to many people, Pugh said.

Regardless of what the event in the fall looks like, the heart of Relay is still to raise money for the American Cancer Society, Johnson said. To that end, they are asking people to consider forming teams and fundraising for Relay.

She pointed out that while the event won’t look exactly as it did in the past, at least for now, they are just happy to be moving forward.

“Relay means so much to so many people. Just being able to have the event this year, we were overwhelmed,” Johnson said.

People interested in forming a Relay for Life team may contact Pat Johnson at 804-241-1161 or Teams captains meet virtually at 7:45 p.m. on the second Monday of the month.

You can also join the Relay event at the South of the James team page.

Laura McFarland may be reached at

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