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Cancer survivors and caregivers enter the Normal Community High School track to begin their one-lap parade during the kickoff of the 23rd American Cancer Society Relay For Life of McLean County on June 23, 2017. Relay organizers announced Tuesday that the 2018 relay will move to The Corn Crib in Normal.

NORMAL — American Cancer Society Relay For Life of McLean County, the 24-hour annual event that is among Central Illinois' larger fundraisers, is moving this year from the Normal Community High School track to The Corn Crib as organizers seek to attract new participants.

"We are revamping relay," volunteer event leader Catina Struble said Tuesday. "Hopefully, we are making it bigger and better."

"I'm definitely excited about it," said Ryan Eucker, vice president of ticket sales for the Normal CornBelters baseball team, whose home is The Corn Crib, 1000 W. Raab Road, Normal.

The 24-year-old event has been at the NCHS track or the Normal Community West High School track for several years.

But The Corn Crib offered to host Relay For Life at no charge and help to market the event, said Struble and Eucker.

"We couldn't turn that down," Struble said.

McLean County Unit 5 spokewoman Dayna Brown said the Normal-based school district charged only for custodial coverage for use of its school sites.

Struble hopes The Corn Crib will be a more central location than NCHS, 3900 E. Raab Road, as relay organizers try to attract new participants.

In addition, Unit 5 informed relay organizers after relay last year that Unit 5  doesn't allow outdoor inflatable play areas for children, Struble said.

"Unit 5 has a policy that doesn't allow for outdoor inflatables," Brown said. "Our insurance company has deemed them dangerous because there have been instances where they were swept up by the wind. We do allow them inside."

"The inflatables are a huge part of our youth area," Struble said. "Unit 5 was more than happy to have us back" without the inflatables.

The Corn Crib is allowing inflatables and other children's activities on the baseball field, Struble said.

"We wish them well and we will continue to support the event," Brown said.

On the artificial turf baseball field will be a track created for the relay, youth area, games, the stage and tents for people who wish to camp out overnight.

"We can't stake them (the tents) but we can weight them (down)," Struble said. Fewer people camp out overnight at relay compared with several years ago, she said.

Relay will be 2 p.m. June 22 to 2 p.m. June 23. The time was moved up by two hours because going until 4 p.m. made for a long second day for some participants, Struble said.

If it rains, organizers would find an alternate indoor location or would reschedule the event because participants will no longer be able to go inside a school, Struble said.

About 1,000 people participated in last year's event, which raised $300,786.47 for cancer research and programs such as rides for patients for medical appointments, a wig bank and programs to encourage people to be screened for cancer.

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Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech


Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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