Preparations are underway for the 21st annual Fran DeLisle Cancer Awareness Walkathon that is scheduled for Saturday, June 4.

This year, walkers will have another way to participate in the philanthropic event other than the standard walk from Dyea to Skagway, or the shorter walk from Long Bay.

“There’s a new option this year, of starting in Skagway right as registration opens [at 8 a.m.] and then walking out to Dyea,” said Wendy Anderson, a board member on the Fran DeLisle Breast Cancer Awareness Fund. “We will all meet out at the Chilkoot Trail Outpost at ten o’clock for a group photo.”

After the picture, early walkers can catch the bus back to town after it drops off those who will participate in the normally scheduled route from Dyea to Skagway.

“So that would provide for an option if people don’t want to be on the road with so many walkers, or they need to get back to town early, or they just want to have their day free for the rest of the day. They can start up at eight o’clock and walk out to Dyea and be done earlier,” Anderson said.

Nearly 7,000 people from four cruise ships are expected to visit the town on the Saturday of the walkathon, which posed logistical concerns for the planning committee and thus was the reason behind the idea of the earlier walk.

“This year is going to be a busier day in general, so there is going to be a little more traffic on the road. So it would help alleviate that congestion on the road if we’re utilizing all three options,” Anderson said.

As a result of the predicted increased congestion, the committee has decided to not provide the usual service of shuttling dogs to the starting point in Dyea.

“We’re not going to do that this year just because of the higher volume of traffic on the road, just as a safety factor,” Anderson said. “But if people still want to take their dogs, they’re more than welcome to do so, but they’re going to have to arrange their own transportation out there.”

All proceeds from the $20 admission fees, sponsorships and donations go towards a fund providing preventive cancer screenings, as well as financial assistance for Skagway residents diagnosed with cancer. An individual can receive up to $1,000 per year for cancer-related medical and transportation expenses.

Last year, approximately 100 people participated in the walk and raised more than $12,000. Over the past 20 years, the walkathon has raised more than $320,000.

Anderson encourages long-time residents, new arrivals and visitors alike to take part in the walkathon.

“It’s a good community building venue,” Anderson said. “It’s great for people who haven’t been here. You have an opportunity to meet all of these different people, and you’ve got this hour to two hour walk you’re doing, and so you get to meet other people or talk to people you haven’t talked to in a very long time.”

Fran DeLisle, the survivor of multiple types of cancer and the founder of the walk, will be unable to attend this year due to ongoing health concerns.