About Relay for Life

What is Relay?

– Organized, overnight community fundraising walk

– Teams of people camp out around a track

– Members of each team take turns walking around the track

– Food, games and activities provide entertainment and build camaraderie

– Family-friendly environment for the entire community

Because it’s a team event, individual participants are not required to be there the entire time. But it’s so much fun, you’ll find it hard to leave!

What Makes a Relay Event Special?

Many moments create the unique Relay experience. While event details vary from community to community, all events have key moments in common:

– Survivors Lap: During the Survivors Lap, all cancer survivors at the event take the first lap around teh track, celebrating theri victory over cancer while cheered on by the other participants who line teh track. Relay for Life events also recognize and celebrate caregivers, who give time, love, and support to their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers facing cancer.

– Luminaria Ceremony: The Luminaria Ceremony takes place after dark, so we can remember people we have lost to cancer, honor people who have fought cancer in the past, and support those whose fight continues. Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the Relay track as glowing tributes to those who’ve been affected by cancer.

– Fight Back Ceremony: This emotionally powerful ceremony inspires Relay participants to take action. The Fight Back Ceremony symbolizes the emotional commitment each of us can make in the fight against cancer. The action taken represents what we are willing to do for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for our community to fight cancer year-round and to commit to saving lives.

– History of Relay for Life: In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern cancer. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event. Since those first steps, the Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to fight cancer.

Why We Fundraise:

While the American Cancer Society is making progress toward a world without cancer, only with your dedication and fundraising efforts can we finish the fight against the disease.

With your help, we aren’t just fighting one type of cancer we’re fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. Each person who shares the Relay For Life experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten our loved ones or rob anyone of another birthday.

Make sure your team members and donors understand how important their contributions are by sharing how their support is making a difference:


For more than 65 years, the American Cancer Society has been finding answers that save lives – from changes in lifestyle to new approaches in therapies to improving cancer patients’ quality of life. No single nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization in the US has invested more to find the causes and cures of cancer.

Hope Lodge

Where to stay and how to afford accommodations are immediate concerns for cancer patients who must travel away from home for the best treatment. American Cancer Society Hope Lodge facilities provide a free and comfortable place for patients and their caregivers to stay, so they can focus on getting well.

Road to Recovery

Cancer patients frequently cite transportation to and from treatment as one of their most critical needs. The American Cancer Society Road To Recovery program matches cancer patients with specially trained volunteer drivers.

Look Good… Feel Better

This free service teaches women battling cancer beauty techniques to help them improve their appearance and self-image during chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Volunteer beauty professionals demonstrate makeup techniques, nail care, skin care, and options related to hair loss.

Reach to Recovery

Our Reach To Recovery support program matches specially trained breast cancer survivors with people who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and want to talk to someone who has been there. These dedicated volunteers offer understanding, support, and hope.

Survivors & Caregivers

We don’t face cancer alone and neither should you. We come together every year at more than 5,200 community Relay For Life events around the country and celebrate those individuals who are winning the fight. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world’s largest support group for survivors and their caregivers.

A cancer survivor is defined by the American Cancer Society as anyone who is living with cancer, from the date of diagnosis. If you have ever heard the words, “You have cancer,” we invite you to participate as a survivor.

Whether you’re a survivor or caregiver, getting involved in your local Relay For Life event can introduce you to others who are facing the same challenges, and provide opportunities for learning, sharing, and friendship.

Why Survivors Participate in Relay for Life

– Meet other cancer survivors who have had the same experiences

– Become a part of the largest cancer support group in the world

– Serve as inspiration to those newly diagnosed with the disease

– Publicly recognize and thank caregivers for their support and commitment

Why Caregivers Participate in Relay for Life

– Publicly honor and applaud survivors

– Connect with a community of other caregivers

– Identify that this is an illness that is faced not individually but together


Fighting cancer is a cause that is easy to rally around and one that many people will gladly support. We want to be sure that we are doing everything we can to help you as a fundraising Relay For Life participant. You can find lots of good fundraising ideas at www.relayforlife.org that are regularly updated.

Fundraising Tips

-Make a list and check it twice.

Make a list of potential donors. Include everyone you know and send them each a letter or an email using your My Relay dashboard. Start by making a donation yourself and ask others to match it!

– Ask every day.

Ask one person each day to make a contribution. If you get five $20 gifts, you’ll have raised $100 in less than a week! Cancer is an issue that affects us all, and most people are happy to donate – even in tough economic times. Don’t assume the answer is no – give everyone the opportunity to help finish the fight against cancer by making a tax-deductible donation.

– Honor someone.

Encourage a cancer survivor to walk or participate on your team. Let everyone know your team is walking in his or her honor. A real-life story makes your fundraising personal.

– Talk it up.

Ask for a few minutes on the agenda of any meetings you’ll be attending. Explain why you are participating in the event and ask for everyone’s support. If you’re dedicating your efforts to someone who has had cancer, tell that person’s story.

– Fundraise as a team.

Teams can have a lot of fun organizing activities and events to raise money for the American Cancer Society. There are many team fundraising ideas, but we’ve found that fundraising activities that provide a service that people would already spend money on are most successful. For example, teams could offer babysitting or host movie nights, garage sales, spaghetti dinners, or car washes the sky is the limit!

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