The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is returning to Manatee County on April 4th. What is the Relay and how can you get involved? Here’s everything you need to know!
What is Relay for Life?
Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is the world’s largest fundraising event to fight cancer. Each year, over 4 million people participate in approximately 5,000 events held in cities across the country. These events bring communities together to celebrate cancer survivors, pay tribute to lost loved ones, and raise the funds needed to fight back.
The movement began back in 1985 when Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt spent 24-hours walking and running around a track to help raise funds and awareness for The American Cancer Society. Throughout the night, Dr. Klatt’s friends, family, and patients came out to show their support. Some paid to walk or run a lap along with him. By the end of the 24-hours, he had raised $27,000 in pledged funds. The next year, the first Relay for Life was held. It included 19 teams who raised a total of $33,000.
Today, Relay for Life events are held at schools, parks, and fairgrounds. Participants form teams well ahead of the event date and begin fundraising right away. On the day of the event, they gather together for an unforgettable experience.
Every Relay event begins with an opening ceremony to welcome participants, thank them for contributing to the success of the Relay season, and honor everyone who has been affected by cancer. Manatee County’s Relay will open with a survivor’s lunch provided by one of our wonderful local restaurants. Each survivor will also receive a fee survivor’s shirt.
Next, survivors and caregivers take a lap around the course with the crowd cheering them on. Once the event is in full swing, team members take turns walking around the track. In between laps, they visit other teams’ tents, play games, participate in activities, and support the cause by buying raffle tickets and food.
One of the highlights of the event is the luminaria ceremony. During this ceremony, luminaries are lit to represent lives touched by cancer including those who have lost their lives, survivors, and those who are still fighting.
The ceremony gives people the opportunity to grieve while also offering comfort and hope. It’s a visual reminder that there is light in the darkness.
At the end of the event, the closing ceremony recognizes all of the volunteers for their hard work and the participants for making a real difference in the fight against cancer.
All of the funds raised during the Manatee County Relay for Life go towards cancer research, education, advocacy, and their free programs and services. This includes free wigs to women who may lose their hair, free stays at their Hope Lodge, free or greatly reduced priced hotel rooms through their hotel partners program, and free rides to and from treatment.
How to Get Involved
Are you intrigued? It’s easy to get involved, and you still have plenty of time! This FREE, family-friendly event is scheduled for Saturday, April 4th from 11 am until 11 pm. It will be held at the Manatee County Fairgrounds ( 1303 17th St W, Palmetto, FL 34221 ).
If you’re not able to participate this year, you can still support the cause by sponsoring a participant, making a direct donation, or visiting the upcoming Relay Ralley at Motorworks Brewing. This free event will be held on March 21st from 6 to 9 pm. There will be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, and a ton of fun!