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May 28, 2013 > Relay For Life

Relay For Life

By Gustavo Lomas

Community... a group of people with a common background or goal

Often the journey towards the goal can be difficult but the idea behind it rewarding. In difficult times, people learn to come together and how to take care of others. In troubling times a person has to learn how to look beyond themselves, beyond pride and fear of vulnerability. People become stronger and more capable as they realize that even amidst troubling times, there is hope. The American Cancer Society's Relay For Life is held every year worldwide to remind participants and non-participants alike of true hope.

Relay For Life began in the mid-1980s in Tacoma, Washington, as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer. Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office, and spent 24 hours running and walking around a track to raise funds. That first year, nearly 300 of Dr. Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he circled the course. He envisioned expanding to a 24-hour team relay event to raise more money and over the years, that vision grew into reality as Relay For Life events spread worldwide, raising over four billion dollars.

The goal of Relay For Life is to not only raise funds, but also raise awareness about the disease. Events can last for an afternoon, an evening or 24 hours, combining great company, food, games, and activities to celebrate victories, remember those who have succumbed and strengthen the resolve of those in the midst of a struggle with cancer.

Relay events start with a Survivors Lap - an inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate victories over cancer. The Survivors Lap is said to be an emotional example of how Relay participants ensure that more lives are saved each year by the presence and commitment of each individual on the track.

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

In conclusion, a Fight Back Ceremony encourages participants to make a personal commitment to fight against cancer.

Cal State East Bay kicked off Relay For Life activities in the greater Tri-City area on May 17, followed by Mission San Jose High School's Relay on May 18. Numerous additional Relay For Life events will be celebrated throughout the summer. All ages are welcome; families are widely encouraged to walk together in support of the cause. Food is provided but participants are asked to bring tents and sleeping comforts. Although teams are the primary participants, individuals are also welcome. No one is required to stay the entire time.

For more information, to register for an event near you, make a donation or for preparation information, visit:

Fremont Relay For Life
Saturday, June 22
10 a.m.
California School of the Deaf
39350 Gallaudet Dr., Fremont

Milpitas Relay For Life
Saturday, June 22
10 a.m.
Milpitas Sports Center
1325 East Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas

Newark Relay For Life
Saturday, July 20
10 a.m.
Newark Memorial High School
39375 Cedar Blvd., Newark

Castro Valley Relay For Life
Saturday, July 20
9 a.m.
Canyon Middle School
19600 Cull Canyon Rd., Castro Valley

San Lorenzo Relay For Life
Saturday, August 10
9 a.m.
San Lorenzo High School
50 E Lewelling Blvd., San Lorenzo

Union City Relay For Life
Saturday and Sunday, August 24 - 25
10 a.m.
James Logan High School
1800 H St., Union City

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