July 2, 2015: Relay for Life makes a difference for everyone involved, by Deanna Metro

July 2, 2015 by

DEANNA METRO

DEANNA METRO

One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than with the story of the American Cancer Relay for Life, which began in Tacoma, Wash., as the City of Destiny Classic 24-hour Run Against Cancer.

It was the mid 1980s and Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the donations coming in to his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed – running marathons. In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000.

The next year 19 teams took part in the first team relay event and raised $33,000.

Within just a few years the American Cancer Society Relay for Life had spread around the country.

It is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and fight back against the disease.

Our goal is to ensure that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten and those facing cancer will always be supported.

At Relay, teams camp out at a public location — a local high school or park, for example — and team members walk or run 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.

Although every Relay for Life is different, there are three traditions at all of them, to help participants celebrate, remember, and fight back:

CELEBRATE — The Survivors Lap. This is an inspirational time when the survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories they have achieved over cancer.

REMEMBER — The Luminaria Ceremony. After dark, we honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease. We light candles that are inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer.

FIGHT BACK — The Fight Back Ceremony is when we make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight. It is a commitment to do something simple like getting a screening test, quit smoking, etc.

The Cloud County Relay for Life will be held this year on Saturday, Aug. 8, from 5 p.m. until midnight at the Concordia High School track. There will be a barbecue and live entertainment throughout the evening. If you are a survivor and did not receive a letter in the mail to get a survivor shirt, please contact me at 614-0965 and one will be ordered for you.

Our Relay Committee is made up of people who volunteer their time for this event each year. They spend numerous hours meeting, planning and putting together schedules, finding entertainment, and all that is needed to make this a success. Our 2015 committee members are Amanda Strait, Jamie Kegle, Steve Davis, Val Davis, Char Love, Tari Kadel, Deanna Metro, Vickie Kopsa, Kent Applebee, Becky Wolford and Tammy Kimminau who is our Community Manager for Relay.

The Relay is not complete without our survivors and caregivers. They are the reason we relay.

If you would like to put together a team, contact Amanda Strait at astrait@cloud.edu or Jamie Kegle at jamiekegle@gmail.com or if you would like to join an existing team, contact Amanda, Jamie, or me.

We have a great group of people and look forward to a great turnout for Relay for Life this year. Hope to see you there.

 

— Deanna Metro has been a customer service representative with Pawnee Mental Health Services since 2001.

 

 

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