MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Instead of walking, they drove.

Mahopac’s annual Relay for Life, an American Cancer Society fundraiser, couldn’t hold its in-person event this year at the high school because of the COVID pandemic, so organizers moved it to Sycamore Park, where on Saturday, Sept. 12, teams drove through in cars to honor cancer survivors and to remember those who lost the battle.

“We reached out to the Rec Department and they were absolutely wonderful and collaborated with us to create the drive-thru experience,” said Kate Corsitto, community development manager for the American Cancer Society. “We could be in-person but drive and social distance.”

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Corsitto said that Sycamore Park will not be Relay for Life’s permanent home; they hope to be back at the high school next year. But, she said, Relay found a new friend and partner in the Recreation Department.

“What we wanted to do is take the most meaningful parts of the Relay and translate those to our drive-thru experience at the park,” Corsitto said. “That included the luminaria (bags lighted by candles) in memory of someone in their cancer journey, and bring our memory boards—they are the giant boards we lined up along the pavilion to help remember people who lost the battle to cancer.”

Corsitto said some participants drove through the course several times to take in the memory boards.

“We wanted to make sure we recognized our sponsors and teams as well, so there was signage with team names and the amount they raised,” she said. “It wasn’t the hundreds of thousands we normally raise, but every dollar truly does make a difference. This year we did about $40,000 altogether.”

Corsitto said teams decorated their cars for the drive through the park.

“We had about 50 cars with two or three people per car,” she said. “This was the brainchild of one of our event leaders, Heather Strickland. We didn’t know what it would look like, but it turned out positive and amazing.”