The annual Foothills Relay for Life launches this weekend with inspirational speakers and the chance for teams to save some money.
By Mary O’KEEFE
One of the area’s biggest nonprofit events kicks off this weekend.
Supporters of the American Cancer Society’s Foothills Relay for Life will meet this Saturday at 7 p.m. at the corner of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard to register for the May 24-hour relay walk, listen to inspiring stories and learn how to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
On Saturday night, teams can register for the May event and pay only $12, which can be a saving of over $100. The evening will also bring together community members, including cancer survivors, caregivers and those who have taken up this cause to help support research and medical advancement.
The event will include speakers who will share stories of being a caregiver for a loved one with cancer. A cancer survivor will also offer a personal glimpse into their struggle. Information on the Foothills Relay for Life will be available as well.
The Foothills Relay is part of the nationwide American Cancer Society Relay for Life. The 24-hour relay event began in Tacoma, Wash. in 1985 by Dr. Gordy Klatt. He was a runner and decided to combine his love for the sport with his desire to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. For 24 hours he circled the track at the University of Puget Sound and ran over 83 miles. According to relayforlife.org, in that first year over 300 supporters of the doctor watched him run. Throughout the night they donated $25 to run or walk with him for 30 minutes.
The event was so successful that Dr. Klatt formed a committee to plan the first relay event team. In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first relay team. From that beginning, teams have formed throughout the country and all participate in Relay for Life events.
The idea is for a member of each team to be on the track at all times, never sleeping, symbolizing the fact that cancer never rests.
The Foothills Relay for Life is a little different than most. It has a feeling of small town community, said Paula Warner, this year’s event chair.
“This is my third year,” Warner said. “My son’s school, Hillside School and Learning Center, had a team.”
Her son came home one day and told her he wanted to walk with the team. She had not heard of the event at the time.
“That first year I showed up to volunteer. I was to serve food and I thought I would be there for about an hour. I stayed 12 hours,” she said. “I was moved beyond belief and wanted to get more involved.”
She began working to recruit teams and then just kept volunteering.
The event seems to do that to many of those who have participated over the years. They planned to volunteer for a short time, or just stop by to bring their children something, and ended up staying the entire time.
The night before the Foothills event, participants bring their tents and pitch them at Clark Magnet High School’s soccer field. Then they go back home to rest up for the next 24 hours. When they return the next morning there is a stage set and colorful tents dotting the field.
A speaker welcomes everyone and throughout the day entertainment is non-stop on the stage. And people walk. They get beads for each lap, to help them keep track of how many laps they’ve covered. The beads are strung onto a wire that each relay walker, or runner, carries with them.
At night, the emotional luminary ceremony invites cancer survivors and supporters to light a candle and walk around the track.
Last year the Foothill Relay for Life teams raised $86,000.
To participate or for information visit http://foothillsrelayforlife.com or stop by the event on Saturday night at Honolulu and Ocean View.