In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern, cancer. Since those first steps, the Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer.
At Relay For Life events, communities across the globe come together to honor cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against a disease that has already taken too much. The funds raised at Relay For Life events truly make a difference in the fight against cancer and go towards many local programs including Reach to Recovery, Road to Recovery, Look Good Feel Better, and Hope Lodge of Kansas City.
What Happens at Relay
Relay For Life teams camp out overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path at a local high school, park or fairground. Events are family friendly with plenty of entertainment and activities for all ages. The events are anywhere between six to 24 hours long, and because cancer never sleeps, each team is asked to have at least one participant on the track at all times.
Many moments create the unique Relay experience. Event details vary by community, but all events have key moments in common: opening and closing ceremonies, a survivor lap, a luminaria ceremony and a fight back ceremony.
Why We Relay
We don’t face cancer alone and neither should you. We come together every year at more than 5,200 community Relay For Life events around the country and celebrate those individuals who are winning the fight. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest support group for survivors and their caregivers.
If you have ever heard the words, “You have cancer,” we invite you to participate as a survivor.
Whether you’re a survivor or caregiver, getting involved in your local Relay For Life event can introduce you to others who are facing the same challenges, and provide opportunities for learning, sharing, and friendship.
During each Relay For Life event, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around the track, celebrating their victory over cancer while being cheered on by the other participants who line the track. Relay For Life events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give time, love, and support to their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.
One of the most inspiring moments during a Relay For Life event is the Luminaria Ceremony. Honor or remember someone you love who has been touched by cancer through the dedication of a luminaria.
The Luminaria Ceremony takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.
How You Can Get Involved
You and your family can form a team, raise money, join the planning committee or volunteer. When you donate, you can assign your gift to a specific participant, team, or event. Cancer is an issue that affects us all, and your tax-deductible donation supports the American Cancer Society’s lifesaving mission.
Be a part of the biggest Relay in the Kansas City Metro! We have Relay For Life events taking place in the Northland, Jackson County and Johnson and Wyandotte counties all on the same night, June 23rd. Please visit relayforlife.org/nightinmetro to learn about a Relay in your community.