Relay For Life
|Relay For Life|
|Type||Fundraising event for the ACS|
|Parent organization||American Cancer Society|
|Remarks||tax ID 741185665N|
Relay For Life (often shortened to Relay) is the main volunteer-driven cancer fundraising event of the American Cancer Society. Originating in the United States, the Relay For Life event has spread to 21 countries. Relay events are held in local communities, campus universities, military bases, and in cyberspace. Although the main objective of Relay is to raise money for cancer research and cancer patients, the event is held to spread cancer awareness, celebrate the lives of survivors, remember those who lost their lives to cancer, and unite a community. The Relay colloquially refers to this mentality, solidarity, activism, and consummate effort as "the fight against cancer". It is estimated that Relay For Life events have raised over $3 billion to date. The first team to raise over $1 million is the Rosebud Miners, and the largest per capita fundraiser for a college or university is Loyola University Maryland. The largest virtual fundraising event is Relay For Life of Second Life, which has raised approximately $1,200,000 since 2004, including a record $373,098 in 2011.
In May 1985, Dr. Gordon Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Washington, decided he wanted to raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of his patients. He then decided to do something he loved- running marathons. For 24 hours, Klatt walked around the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He walked approximately 83 miles and raised $27,000 for cancer research. Nearly 300 of Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course. After this successful event, Klatt thought about how other people could partake in a similar 24-hour event in communities across the country. He recruited a small team of people and put on the first Relay For Life event in 1986, known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.
Since then, Relay has developed into an overnight event where people bring tents and sleep out around the tracks. People of all ages come out to bring the community together and reminisce about their loved ones who have died of cancer and honor those who have survived the disease while raising money for the colloquial "fight". Now, almost 4 million people take part in Relay events in over 5,000 communities in the United States. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are held overnight to remind everyone of that. 
Although all Relays vary, there are a few common features:
- Most tend to go overnight, because cancer never sleeps.
- Most events can last 12 or 24 hours, depending on each event.
- Most participants are a part of a team, consisting of approximately 8-15 people.
- A Survivor Dinner, to celebrate survivors of the disease.
- A Survivor Lap, which starts the Relay event.
- An Opening Lap, in which all the teams take a lap around the track carrying banners to celebrate their team accomplishments.
- A Luminaria Ceremony, usually with a candlelight vigil to honor those who lost their lives to cancer.
- A Closing Ceremony, including a final lap around the track in which everyone takes part. Awards are given to teams for various achievements, such as most laps walked and most money raised.
- A "Fight Back" Ceremony, in which participants pledge to ultimately respond to the disease in a number of ways. Nowadays, the “Fight Back” Ceremony is often the Closing Ceremony.
Survivor Lap and Survivor Dinner 
Survivors are a large part of the Relay community. At most Relay events, a Survivor Dinner is held for survivors in the community to come together and share their experiences with cancer. It is an opportunity for participants to reach out and connect with survivors. The Survivor Dinner lets those who have fought with cancer know they are acknowledged and recognized for their achievements. The Survivor Lap, which often signifies the start of Relay, is again used to distinguish the survivors and celebrate their victory. The Survivor Lap is meant to be a very emotional part of a Relay For Life Event. The survivors are able to walk around the track, while the others celebrate and recognize the obstacles they have overcame. The Survivor Lap signifies the difference that is made through fighting for more birthdays. Sometimes survivors are invited to speak at Relay events to encourage those with cancer to continue their activism and to ensure the community that there is hope when given a diagnosis of cancer. 
In some cases, a cancer survivor or someone diagnosed with cancer cannot physically attend the event. In an effort to solve this conflict, ACS has implemented the concept of the Virtual Survivor. A Virtual Survivor is someone that has been diagnosed with cancer but, due to distance, time, illness and so on, he or she cannot attend a Relay event. An individual, usually a family member, will represent the virtual survivor and honor them by walking in the Survivor Lap. The individual may create a poster, photo collage or T-shirt, to give tribute to the survivor at the Relay event.
Luminaria Ceremony 
Relay For Life’s slogan is “Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back.” The Luminaria Ceremony is targeted toward “Remember.” During this time, participants are asked to gather and remember those who have fallen victim to cancer. Luminaria bags are often decorated by participants, honoring a loved one who has passed or is engaging the disease. These bags are often placed around the track and candles inside the bags are lit before the start of the Luminaria Ceremony. Usually, the luminaria are used to spell out large capitalized words such as "HOPE" and "CURE", and the words illuminate during the ceremony. Some participants or guest speakers are invited to share their stories, and each participant is given a candle to light in remembrance of a loved one. Following the Luminaria Ceremony, it is suggested that participants walk a lap around the track in silence to give respect to those who have fallen ill with cancer or to those whose lives were lost. At some Relay events, pictures of cancer patients are shown and "Amazing Grace" is performed.
Fight Back Ceremony 
The Fight Back Ceremony, often held toward the end of Relay events, is when participants pledge to take action and spread awareness of cancer research, treatments, and prevention. Participants are encouraged to hold events in the community to help others quit smoking, push citizens to have routine screenings, educate about cancer in minorities, and to volunteer their time to the American Cancer Society. A representative from the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) may come to a Relay event and speak about cancer prevention bills and legislation that are trying to be passed. The Fight Back Ceremony urges participants to register for ACS CAN and set up a CAN page. ACS CAN has been successful in passing Michelle’s Law (named after Michelle Morse) and is a proud supporter of birthdays.
Relay in the community 
Relay For Life is a volunteer-run event. Citizens work alongside of their local American Cancer Society office to put on a Relay event. American Cancer Society staff partners educate the community on how to establish a Relay event and about the various activities and events that are held during Relay. Staff partners may give fundraising tips and help publicize the event.
People interested in becoming part of Relay can contact the local American Cancer Society office. If there is not a Relay event in the area, one may decide to recruit participants and work with the American Cancer Society staff partners to establish a Relay event. If a Relay event is present in a community, an individual may go to Relay’s website; each Relay event has its own webpage hosted there.
Each year, Relay For Life posts the top-earned college and community online fundraising statistics. In 2011, the Relay For Life of Virginia Tech was the university that raised the most money online and Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, IL was the highest grossing all-youth high school event in the nation with just over $405,000. In 2012, the Virginia Tech Relay for Life raised $578,868 with 5,892 Participants slightly less than 2011.
The Relay For Life organization, and the American Cancer Society, state that the money raised by Relay goes to the following efforts:
- Research grants and research programs
- Prevention programs
- Community/patient support programs
- Detection and treatment programs
- Construction of Hope Lodges
Fundraising also gets recognition at the event, depending on how much your team raises, you can be awarded a sign with your specific level of fundraising. You may also get different prizes based on your fundraising amount. There are different levels that recognize the above average fundraising.
The levels in order from the lowest fundraising levels to the highest are as follows:
- Nickel Level
- Bronze Level
- Silver Level
- Gold Level
- Platinum Level
- Jade Level
- Emerald Level
- Topaz Level
- Ruby Level
The organization also provides equipment such as hospital beds or walkers. “If their insurance doesn't cover it, we do,” said [Peg Schultz of the American Cancer Society], who handles community relations. ... In the area supervised by Schultz, Relays for Life funds probably comprise “90 to 95 percent of our donations,” she said.
— Aberdeen News
Relay For Life International 
The following countries hold Relay For Life events: Australia, Belgium, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Denmark, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, United Kingdom, United States and Zambia.
See also 
- "Relay For Life Sponsorship Contract". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- "International Relay For Life: One World - One Hope!". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Relay For Life of Mountain View, CA". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Rosebud Miners Become First Million-Dollar Relay For Life Team in the Nation for the American Cancer Society". Archived from the original on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Loyola hosts Relay For Life March 28". Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Relay For Life". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "Relay For Life of Second Life". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "What Is Relay For Life?". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- "About Relay For Life". Retrieved 16 April 2013.
- "The Virtual Survivor". Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Link text
- "Fundraising Clubs". Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Bahr, Jeff (August 2, 2009). "Where does the Relay for Life money go?". Aberdeen News. "In the area supervised by Schultz, Relays for Life funds probably comprise “90 to 95 percent of our donations,” [Peg Schultz of the ACS] said."
- Sampson, David. "Tough Choices in Research Funding". ACS Pressroom Blog. American Cancer Society. Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- American Cancer Society. "Research Programs and Funding". Retrieved April 10, 2013.
- Official Relay For Life Website
- American Cancer Society Relay For Life
- Relay For Life International
- American Cancer Society Colleges Against Cancer
- American Cancer Society Coaches Versus Cancer
- Relay For Life Videos on YouTube
- Relay For Life Volunteer Photo Pool on Flickr
- Stockport Relay For Life
- Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life
- Cancer Research UK Relay For Life
- Team MOA - New Zealand Relay For Life
- Derby Relay for Life, Derby, UK
- Swanwick Relay for Life, Derbyshire, UK
- Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life Youth Program Information
- Relay For Life of Second Life
- Australian Relay For Life
- Gordon Klatt