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June 4, 2010 > Relay for Life

Relay for Life

By Fina Mora
Photos By courtesy of Allie Carroll

The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. All cancer survivors and community members are invited to attend Relay for Life to spread awareness and fight back.

"At Relay we want to celebrate life and to remember those that have passed," said Allie Carroll, eleven-year ovarian cancer survivor and first time participant of Relay for Life.

Relay for Life is part of an international movement to end cancer. Since 1996, the Society has collaborated with multiple cancer organizations in countries outside the United States, to license and support Relay for Life globally.

The American Cancer Society helps fight cancer with its information, services and programs to provide day-to-day help and emotional support. "They helped me fight my cancer," said Carroll. "One afternoon, after talking to someone, changed my life; they sent me in the direction to get involved."

At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, relays are overnight events, lasting up to 24 hours in length.

Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man's passion to fight cancer, into the world's largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon to raise much-needed funds and awareness and to save lives from cancer.

Funds earned from Relay for Life are used to battle cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. Last year alone, Fremont raised over $1 million dollars to aid the American Cancer Society in ending cancer. Relay for Life brings together friends, family, schools, hospitals, etc., and mobilizes communities throughout the country to raise money to support the American Cancer Society's mission to end cancer. Relay for Life is not just about those affected by cancer or those that don't have it, but "it's all, it's both, it's one" says Carroll. "Together, cancer can be stopped."

To start off the event, Relay starts with a Survivors Lap - an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories achieved over cancer.

After dark, people who have been touched by cancer remember loved ones lost to the disease and honor them during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence.

Last, there is a Fight Back Ceremony, where a personal commitment is made to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer. It can be as simple as a screening test, quitting smoking, or talking to elected officials about cancer. By taking action, people are personally taking steps to save lives and fight back against cancer.

However Relay for Life also focuses on celebrating life. Relays feature youth involvement, including arts and crafts and food. During Fremont's event, each team has their own themed tent selling various foods or offering services such as massages or chiropractic spine alignment. A silent auction will also be hosted to raise funds while teams circle the track. "It's not too late to join teams," said Carroll of team Luna Light, "and if you can't donate money, services are good like donating water bottles or a basket for the auction."

Relay for Life is more than just a fundraiser. It's a life-changing experience. At Relay, every person in the community has a chance to celebrate, remember, and fight back. In addition, every person who participates joins others around the globe as part of this worldwide movement to end cancer. Each person who shares the Relay experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone's life so that more birthdays will be celebrated.

"It's not too late for community involvement. We still need sponsors; if you have pennies, we want them. Anything helps, even just coming out," says Carroll.

For more information about the American Cancer Society visit or for more information about Relay for Life visit

Relay for Life:

Saturday-Sunday, June 26-27
10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday
California School for the Deaf
29350 Gallaudet Drive

Saturday-Sunday, June 5-6
10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday
Moreau Catholic High School
27170 Mission Blvd.

Saturday-Sunday, June 19
10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday
Milpitas Sports Center
1325 E Calaveras Blvd.

Saturday-Sunday, July 17-18
10 a.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday
Newark Jr. High School
6201 Lafayette Ave.

Union City
Saturday-Sunday, June 26-27
Saturday-Sunday, August 7-8
9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday
James Logan High School
1800 H Street

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