Half of all men, and one-third of all women, will develop some form of cancer in their lifetimes. But cancer doesn’t only affect those diagnosed with the disease. Many people know someone battling the disease, and many serve as caregivers.
There are a number of different organizations and associations dedicated to raising both awareness of and funding to cure cancer. And the next few weeks are filled with such efforts, as area groups participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program.
Relay for Life is generally an overnight community fundraising walk that celebrates survivors, honors those lost and inspires hope, all while raising money for cancer research and support. The event began in the mid-1980s in Tacoma, Wash., when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked for 24 hours and 83 miles around Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound. Friends donated $25 to run or walk for 30 minutes with him, raising a total $27,000 for the local American Cancer Society office. The experience sparked a passion in Klatt, and he organized the first team relay event.
Today, thousands of relays are held across the United States, raising billions of dollars across three decades; it is estimated that more than $5 billion has been raised to date. The event brings out teams who raise money and then walk the track, with one person from each team walking or running around the clock. Each year, more than 5,000 Relay for Life events are held across the United States and in 20 countries around the world.
Starting in April, for three consecutive weekends, area residents and groups will be walking miles and raising much-needed dollars.
In Royal Palm Beach, the Relay for Life starts on Saturday, April 2 at 4 p.m. at Royal Palm Beach High School (10600 Okeechobee Blvd.). This year’s theme is “Paint Your World Purple: Stomp Out Cancer and Round Up a Cure.” The Royal Palm Beach Relay for Life has already raised more than $18,000. For more information, or to get involved, visit www.relayforlife.org/royalpalmbeachfl.
The following weekend, on Saturday, April 9, is the Acreage/Loxahatchee Relay for Life at Acreage Community Park (6701 140th Ave North). The event, which has already raised more than $22,000, starts at 11 a.m. To register, visit www.relayforlife.org/acreagefl or call Aversis Concepcion at (561) 650-0145.
Wrapping up the western communities trilogy is the Wellington Relay for Life, taking place at Palm Beach Central High School (8499 Forest Hill Blvd.) on Saturday, April 16 from 3 p.m. until midnight. That event has already raised more than $8,000. For more information, e-mail email@example.com or call (561) 635-4084.
The family-friendly event typically passes time with music and festivities, but also pays homage to those who live with cancer every day — from survivors to caregivers. It’s a special event that brings the community together, and the funds raised go to help fund research, to help cancer patients afford accommodations while in treatment, to fund programs to get patients to and from their doctors, and other services.
Fighting cancer is a noble cause, and the Relay for Life is an inspiring way to tackle such a somber issue. We encourage the community to go out and support these important local events. Even if you can’t join a team, stop by and have some food, play some games and support the teams’ efforts.
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.relayforlife.org and search for your local event. Or visit the organization’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/relayforlife, where you can also find information on relays and even register to participate.