R is for Relay For Life. If you have followed my blog at all, this selection probably doesn't surprise you. I have been involved with Relay for two years now, and we are starting to prepare for Relay 2009.
Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people to:
• Celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer. The strength of survivors inspires others to continue to fight. • Remember loved ones lost to the disease. At Relay, people who have walked alongside people battling cancer can grieve and find healing. • Fight Back. We Relay because we have been touched by cancer and desperately want to put an end to the disease.
One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than with the story of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, which began in Tacoma, Washington. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office and to show support for all of his patients who had battled cancer. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons.
In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He ran for more than 83 miles. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk with Dr. Klatt for 30 minutes. His efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer.
While circling the track those 24 hours, Dr. Klatt thought about how others could take part in his mission to fight cancer. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Over the next few months, he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event, known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.
In 1986, with the help of Pat Flynn – now known as the “Mother of Relay” – 19 teams took part in the first team Relay event on the track at the historic Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield.
In 2009 there will be Relay For Life events in over 5,000 communities. Check and see if you community is one of them, and if it is plan to participate.