Walkers (and joggers) will go around the clock in the fight for a world with more birthdays and less cancer during the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Shawnee County, now in its 20th year.
Teams of Shawnee County residents will gather at the Hayden High School track, 401 S.W. Gage in Topeka, on Friday, June 3, at 7 p.m. for an overnight relay against cancer.
"Relay For Life" is a family-oriented team event where participants can walk relay-style around the track and take part in fun activities off the track. Teams can include coworkers, club members, church groups, family and friends who have gathered donations prior to the event.
“The American Cancer Society Relay For Life offers an opportunity for survivors, current cancer patients, friends, family, anyone really, to come together in the fight against cancer,” said Sandy Ortiz, Relay co-chair. “Many of the participants are cancer survivors who serve as reminders that our community is not immune to this disease and we can actually help our friends, families and neighbors who have been touched by cancer.”
Relay For Life is a life-changing event that brings together more than 3.5 million people nationwide every year to celebrate the lives of those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and empower individuals and communities to fight back against a disease that takes so much. Team members seek sponsorship prior to the Relay, then gather with tents and sleeping bags to participate, all with the goal of supporting a cure for cancer.
Relay For Life begins with an Opening Ceremony at 7 p.m., as cancer survivors (anyone who has ever been diagnosed with cancer) walk or use a wheelchair to complete the first lap. This is an emotional time that sets the stage of the importance of each participant’s contribution.
A festive atmosphere develops around the track. As walkers make new friends and spend time with old ones, the Relay heats up and the camp-out begins. An atmosphere of camaraderie is created with team members entertaining each other: eating, playing games, bidding on silent auction items, and, of course, walking for a great cause.
All are invited to attend the Luminaria Ceremony, which takes place after sundown at approximately 10 p.m. To honor the community’s cancer survivors and caregivers while remembering those lost to the disease, participants circle the track lined with glowing luminaria (candle lanterns) while the names of survivors and those lost to the disease are shown on a large screen. Luminaria may be purchased for $10 by calling 785-273-4462.
“This year, to weigh down the luminaria sacks, teams are donating cans of food. At the conclusion of the Relay, we are donating the canned goods to Project Topeka,” explained Ortiz. “So it’s a win-win for the fight against cancer and the fight against hunger in our community.”
Funds raised at Relay For Life will enable the American Cancer Society to support local services and resources for cancer patients and their families. Funds also support critical cancer research as well as community education programs designed to teach people how to reduce their risk of developing cancer.
Last year’s Relay For Life in Topeka raised nearly $155,000 for the fight against cancer. This year’s goal is $170,000.
For more information about Relay and to find out how you can get involved visit www.RelayForLife.org/topekaks or call 785-273-4462. For cancer information, call 800-ACS-2345, available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, or visit www.cancer.org.