31 years ago, the Relay for Life was started and event-goers walked the track, camped out in tents, celebrated survivors, and honored those who lost their lives to cancer. The relays, which typically last up to 24 consecutive hours, has raised money for the American Cancer Society.

However in recent years, the event has struggled.

According to South Coast Today.com, 1,083 team members for the Greater New Bedford Relay for Life raised $367,371 in 2010.

“By 2015, the totals were considerably less than half that amount, with 465 team members bringing in $150,206.”

Although specific numbers were not provided, the Wareham Relay for Life struggled significantly. The event was stopped and merged with the Relay for Life of Tri-Town, which attracts crowds mostly from Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester.

With the addition of Wareham, the Tri-Town Relay for Life will be held June 18 at Wareham Middle School and the Greater New Bedford Relay for Life will take place on June 24 at New Bedford High School.

Tom Flanagan, interim senior director of the New England division of communications of the American Cancer Society stated, “Relays remain the society’s top-fund-raisers and still do well in some areas, but struggles such as those faced locally have forced the society to start looking at changes.”

A 24-hour commitment can be too demanding for some in today’s busy world. Potential changes could reduce the relay to 8 or possibly 10 hours, which would eliminate camping overnight.

A TV and digital ad campaign has been created to run in the next upcoming weeks, which will try to attract more visitors to the event.

With additional reporting by Sal Lopez

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