I’ve noticed lately that several friends have started posting for the “Relay for Life”, so it seemed a logical next choice for featured charity. The “Relay for Life” is an annual event that originated in the United States with the American Cancer Society.
In May of 1985, a doctor by the name of Gordon Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Washington, decided that he wanted to raise money for the American Cancery Society in honour of his patients. For 24 hours, Klatt walked around the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Nearly 300 of Klatt’s family, friends and patients watched him, and would pay 25.00 to either run or walk with him for 1/2 hour at a time. He walked approximately 83 miles and raised $27,000.00 to fight cancer. After this, he thought about how other people could take part in this, put together a small group of people and put on the first Relay for Life event in 1986.
Since then, the Relay for Life event has become an overnight event where people put up tents and sleep out around the tracks. Today, almost 4 million people in over 5,000 communities in the United States and 21 countries take part in this annual fundraiser.
Although all relays vary, there are a few common features:
- Most tend to go overnight since cancer never sleeps.
- Most events last 24 hours.
- Most participants are a part of a team, consisting of approximately 8-15 people.
- A Survivor Dinner.
- A Survivor Lap, which starts the Relay event.
- An Opening Lap, in which all the teams take a lap around the track carrying banners.
- A Luminaria Ceremony, usually with a candlelight vigil to honor those who lost their lives to cancer.
- A Closing Ceremony, including a final lap around the track in which everyone takes part. Awards are given to teams for various achievements, such as most laps walked and most money raised.
- A “Fight Back” Ceremony, in which participants pledge to fight back against cancer in a number of ways. Nowadays, the “Fight Back” Ceremony is often the Closing Ceremony.
Relay for Life is a volunteer-run event. For information on how you can participate, please visit the American Cancer Society or Canadian Cancer Society website in your area.