Relay For Life is hosted in a variety of cities across the globe and is held on different dates throughout the summer. Cancer survivors around the world run in honor of those who have survived cancer and those who have lost loved ones due to cancer. The Relay For Life events raise money to help fight cancer. Participants bring their camping gear, or just their sleeping bags and chairs, to camp overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at local high schools, parks or fairgrounds. One of the main requirements of the event is that each team has at least one participant on the field at all times. The thought behind the idea of having one participant on the field for the entire 24 hours of the relay is that “cancer never sleeps.”
How Did Relay For Life Start?
In 2014, “The News Tribune” reported that in May of 1985, Dr. Gordon Klatt walked and ran for a straight 24 hours for a total of 83 miles around the track at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He helped raise $27,000 for a young man who died of cancer, and his efforts were considered a tribute to that young man. The money the doctor raised went to help the American Cancer Society fund their research on cancer. After the first run by Dr. Klatt, he was joined the following year by 220 people on 19 different teams for the next overnight event.
Dr. Klatt died at the age of 71 after struggling with a heart condition. He practiced for 40 years as a surgeon in Tacoma and fought cancer both as a doctor and a patient. He is known as the father of the Relay For Life event, and his friend of many decades, Harvey Rosen stated:
“He’s not going to be forgotten, because he’s the guy who started the Relay. It’s not even a local legacy; it’s a worldwide legacy. Every time there’s a Relay, he’s going to be remembered.”
Schedule of Events:
- Opening Ceremony
- The relay starts off with the Survivor Lap, where survivors celebrate their victory over cancer.
- Next is a lap for the caregivers called the Caregiver Lap, where those who have cared for people with cancer take their lap around the track/path.
- The Opening Lap is when all of the relay teams are invited to walk together.
- In honor of those who have passed away, the Luminaria Ceremony takes place using bags of sand, which have lit candles inside them.
- The evening continues with Individual Walking during the night, which includes family games, activities and entertainment.
- The closing walk is the Fight Back Ceremony, where relayers take the last lap and pledge to take action, as well as to spread awareness of cancer research, treatments and prevention.
According to Relay For Life, the event includes over 5,200 communities in 20 countries, who participate in these events for the American Cancer Society. The event is one that is special to each and every community and brings together thousands of volunteers in an effort to save the lives of people with cancer.
Signing up for the Relay For Life event is easy and rewarding. All one has to do is go to the Relay For Life American Cancer Society web page, where people can sign up for an event nearby. People can choose to volunteer or to donate money to individuals, a team or the event itself. Donations are tax-deductible, and volunteering is free, except for the requirement of one’s time.
By Tracy Blake
Edited by Cathy Milne & Jeanette Smith
Relay For Life: Get Involved
Relay For Life: Learn About Relay
The News Tribune: Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt, who founded Relay For Life, dies at 71
Featured Image Courtesy of jpellgen’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Alex Haglund’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License