The Neon Night Fun Run is gearing up to hold a virtual event this September, with even more activities than just the run. Chair of the Neon Night Fun Run committee, Yvonne Lane, says they started meeting early in the year to start organizing the 2020 run. When COVID-19 hit, they started monitoring the situation carefully, and decided that they weren’t going to be able to hold the physical event in September. “With the thousand people that come in such a small space, we knew it wasn’t going to be possible this year,” she says.
Yvonne says they debated whether they should hold the event at all, given the impact the pandemic was having on small businesses, which often support Neon Night. However, they decided that they didn’t want to lose the momentum they had going after seven successful years holding the extremely popular run in Kemptville. “For the sake of the warrior kids, we want them to know we are still behind them,” Yvonne says. “We know the community really looks forward to the event every year.”
With the goal of finding a way to harness the usual enthusiasm and joy that surrounds Neon Night, the organizing committee decided to organize a virtual event, where people could sign up and do the run/walk on their own. They also added a “roll” component, where people can rollerblade, bike, or even use their wheelchair to participate in the event. “Individuals are in control of when/where and how far they go,” Yvonne says.
Wanting to do more to connect with the community, the committee has also put together several other activities that are running in tandem with the run. This year they are encouraging the community to participate in a “Paint your Porch” competition, where families, individuals, and businesses can paint their driveway, sidewalk, or storefront in bright colours to support Neon Night. Yvonne would like people to register online and submit photos of their neon homes or storefronts. “We will have some prizes at the end of it,” she says. “We would like to have warriors and their families be the judges.”
Neon Night is also running another contest to encourage people to create their own posters to show the young cancer warriors that the community supports them. There will be prizes awarded for the top posters submitted as well.
Finally, Neon Night will be holding their second annual online auction on Facebook, which was very popular last year. They are currently looking for donations of auction items, prizes for their poster and “Paint your Porch” competitions, and cash sponsors. “We recognize that many businesses have been impacted by COVID-19,” she says. “We are open to any ideas of what folks can do.”
For Yvonne, the nice thing about holding a virtual event is that it is not limited to the North Grenville community. People with family all over the world can participate and raise money for childhood cancer. “We want to get as many people involved as possible.”
In the last seven years, Neon Night has raised over $452,000 to support childhood cancer research. Last year, they had 18 warriors present at the event, and they are hoping to get many of them involved again in September. All the money raised goes directly towards funding research that supports all the local kids in their fight against cancer. “You really feel the community spirit and the love for these kids [at Neon Night],” Yvonne says. “Hopefully, we will get back at it next year; but, for now, this is the next best thing.”
Registration for all the events related to this year’s virtual Neon Night is now open on their website: www.cancer.ca/neonnight. The walk/run/roll is set for September 1-18, the “Paint your Porch” and poster contests will be running from September 1-17, and the online auction will be on Facebook from September 5-11. Yvonne says they are hoping to have a Facebook live event on September 19, which would have been the date of the physical event, to announce the winners of the contests and how much they raised this year.