In many cities throughout the world, people are coming together this weekend and throughout the summer months to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer with the Relay for Life, which starts this Friday. This all day event honors cancer survivors, remembers those who fought back, and gives hope and strength to those who continue fighting against the disease.
In the relay, families, survivors and supporters walk around a track or open field for a whole day taking turns, making sure there is always someone from each team walking on the field. This is done to show the struggle and fight many cancer patients go through, as cancer never sleeps.
The event starts with an opening ceremony where all the participants and volunteers are welcomed to walk together. The first lap is walked by the survivors to celebrate their victory. Following, is the caregivers lap, for those who have given care to cancer patients and continue to do so. The event continues with the second lap, where teams are then invited to walk together for the official start.
As the night sets in, and the relay teams continue to walk, the Luminaria ceremony is introduced. Hundreds of paper bags are lit with candles and placed around the field in memory of those who have battled cancer and for those who continue to fight this disease. This is an emotional ceremony that gives participants a time to grieve for their loved ones and find hope for those who are still fighting. The relay continues throughout the night with games and entertainment to cheer on the teams that take turns and walk for many hours until morning. The event ends with the closing ceremony, where participants walk one more lap as a way to show their commitment to spread awareness and continue in the fight against cancer all year round.
In the U.S., many cities come together to host this event during the months of May until the end of August, and for most of the cities, the start of Relay for Life is this Friday. This event started with one man trying to make a difference. His name is Dr. Gordy Klatt. Klatt decided he wanted to raise funds towards the fight against cancer by doing what he loved most, running. In May of 1985, Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours walking and running around the track of the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Friends and family joined him throughout the night donating money towards his great cause. As Dr. Klatt circled the track over and over, he envisioned what this event could become. In 1986, nearly 20 teams had joined in for the event, raising $33,000. Today, teams all around the world join Relay for Life. Each year, U.S. teams raise approximately $5 billion dollars towards the research and fight against cancer.
In San Diego, Calif., one of the many Relay for Life events will be held on June 21 at Civita Park, kicking off with a special dinner on June 11 at Buffalo Wild Wings. San Diego, known to be a pet-lover city, will also have a Bark for Life event in which pet owners can bring their dogs to walk with them at this event. On July 12, Bark for Life will be held at Valley Wide Recreation and Park District, in Menifee. On Aug. 23, Bark for Life will be held at Dusty Rhodes Park in Ocean Beach. These will be shorter events, but they are great for those who would like to bring their pet to walk with them for this great cause. If you are interested in participating in a Relay for Life in your city or becoming a volunteer, make sure to check the official Relay for Life website. Remember, most of the Relay for Life events will start this Friday.
By Marcia Villavicencio