By Jeff Lilly and Sherrad Glosson
Saturday, June 13
It all started in 1985 on an athletic track in Tacoma, Washington. Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran around the track for 24 hours, raising $27,000 for the American Cancer society. A year later, supporters joined him and the event began to grow. Today, Relay for Life events are held in hundreds of cities around the world. Throughout its history, Relay for Life has raised awareness of cancer, given people a way to connect with fellow patients, survivors, caregivers, and supporters, and raised $5 billion for cancer research. Today, organized by the American Cancer Society, companies and individuals form teams and raise money, the goal being to have someone from their team running or walking the track for the duration of the event.
I spoke to Michele Sibula and Christina Linn of the ACS about this year’s event. The first thing to know is that this year’s relay is at a new location, Martin Road Park, located at 1615 East Lewiston Avenue. “More public access, new neighborhoods.” Christina smiles. Event leadership teams can customize Relays to fit a particular city, and Ferndale’s promises to be fun and unique.
Ferndale’s Relay will run for 14 hours, from 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, June 13 until the stroke of midnight to welcome in Sunday, June 14. Registration opens at 10:00 A.M. Opening ceremonies begin at 11:00 A.M. with a survivor speaker, music from the choir and the presentation of the colors. As the race begins, the first lap goes to the survivors, celebrating another year of having beaten cancer, while those who have been by their side cheer them on along the sidelines. Then the caregivers take their turn, then the teams take the track. But there’s much more to do than just walking or running around. There will also be a “kids zone,” with activities for the whole family, including bounce houses, games, and entertainment.
In the afternoon, there will be a “fight back” ceremony, inspiring people to take action and make a commitment to fight cancer for themselves, for their loved ones, and for the community. You can make a pledge, for example, to eat healthier, or make a donation, or to remind family members to get screened. There will be speakers with inspirational stories of survival as well.
You can also learn more about ACS CAN, the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, the lobbying and legislative arm of the ACS. ACS CAN has scored numerous victories for public health, including banning smoking in public facilities.
There will be a silent auction as well, with proceeds supporting the ACS and its work. Individuals or companies interested in donating items for the auction may contact Christina at the email address below.
As dusk comes on, the always-moving Luminaria Ceremony begins. In it, we take the time to remember the people who have fought well but lost their battle to cancer, those who have battled cancer in the past, and to support those who are still fighting it. Candles are lit and set in each individual personal bag that has a special message, a picture, or a person’s name. A bagpiper will lead the lap around the track. Luminaries may be purchased on the spot for a $10 donation.
Cancer does not discriminate. It has no mercy. Relay for Life is one of the ways to even the score, to do something positive to fight this dreadful disease, and bring on the day when cancer is beaten for all. Victors, not victims!
For more info on how to donate or participate, please contact Christina Linn at (248) 663-3454 or e-mail email@example.com
Ferndale’s Relay for Life on Facebook: www.relayforlife.org/ferndalemi Relay for Life’s main webpage: http://relay.acsevents.org
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