Relay for Life is a 24-hour event facilitated by the American Cancer Society, to raise money towards research in the search to find a cure. It happens every year, in communities of all shapes and sizes. With the exception of a small handful of ACS employees (and in small communities that means one) this event is coordinated, planned, and wonderfully brought to fruition by community volunteers.
It is a family friendly event that blends survivors, patients, caregivers and supporters together to remember those who have succumbed to the disease, honor those we know that struggle with it, and celebrate those who have overcome their battle. The rules vary by community, but the foundation is the same, raise money and raise awareness.
If you want to put together a team, it is easy to do. You can put one together with family, friends, co-workers, etc. Discover what you want your team’s message to be and pick a team name. Some fun team names at a local Relay are Marrow Menders, Polyp Patrol, and The MammoGrammas. It’s pretty clear which message each of these teams has chosen to focus on.
When the teams are established then the “fun”-raising begins. If your team starts early enough, you can get really creative on how your team will raise money. The more creative you are, the more fun it can be. Remember, you are out there raising not just funds, but also awareness. All funds raised go to American Cancer Society in helping fund research opportunities and providing services to those afflicted.
The day of the event be prepared to participate in several team-building events, along with your walking responsibilities. As you walk the track, or circle whatever arena the event is held in, stop and see what the other teams have done. Support your community of teams, as they will do the same for you. You all share a common cause and reason for being there.
Throughout the event people have purchased luminaries for the evening’s festivities. Everyone who purchases one writes a message on a bag to either honor the memory of those they have lost, show support of those who continue their struggle, or celebrate the survivors. Candles are placed inside the luminaries and they are strategically placed either along the walkway path, or in some other ceremonious way. There is a silent lap in honor of those we have lost. It is a wonderful, emotional experience for all.
As the Relay for Life winds down you will feel both exhausted and exhilarated, at the same time. You will have walked, laughed, and cried for hours. If you decide to do this as a family your children will have the opportunity to be exposed to something bigger than their worlds are used to. You are teaching them to give back, and that they can make a difference in the world. It’s not very often you can teach them these valuable lessons, right from your own back yard, but you will all be better for having been a part of it.