hat began some 30 years ago in Tacoma, have opted to retain the full 24-hour Relay event. Washington with one man hoping to Relay For Life Community Manager Vickie make a difference has become an interCordoza, who is based at the Modesto office, has national phenomenon, raising nearly $5 billion to worked for the American Cancer Society for almost benefit the American Cancer Society. five years. This year, she will work with five events, Relay For Life, the signature fundraising event for assisting the committees that plan Relays for their the ACS, now numbers about 5,000 Relays annually communities and then attending the events to offer in 20 countries. support and expertise. Dr. Gordy Klatt is known as the founder of Relay. She will work with Oakdale, Riverbank, Tuolumne He spent a 24-hour period walking and running on County, Manteca and Escalon for the 2015 relay a track at the University of Puget Sound in Washseason. ington in May of 1985 in what was called ‘The City “Our (ACS) services, our research, what we have of Destiny Classic’ and he obtained pledges for his done over the last 100 years, that’s a given,” she said time on the track. It was all of Relay helping support part of his effort to help the the work the American American Cancer Society Cancer Society started in continue its battle against 1913. a disease that touches one But Relay also offers in three people in their more than that and is a lifetimes. Dr. Klatt raised very unifying experience, $27,000 in 1985 and the next she said. year, he was joined by more “It gives us a place to than 300 other participants honor our survivors, it that made up 19 teams and gives us an opportunity raised $33,000. to mourn the people that Throughout the 209, Relay we have lost,” Cordoza For Life helps raise money explained. “That whole 24 for cancer research, patient hours, we celebrate and services and education. remember and fight back, Teams raise money prior Relay gives everyone the to their individual events opportunity to do that.” and the ‘day of ’ Relay also She said taking up the includes booths with a vafight against cancer brings —Vickie Cordoza riety of food, merchandise, the community together, games, opportunity drawpeople from all walks of ings and more, with all proceeds benefiting the ACS. life with one common goal – beating cancer. The focus is firmly on survivors at Relay For Life, Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back – these are the as they are the honored guests and lead the way touchstones of Relay For Life. Relays ‘celebrate’ those around the track for the initial lap after opening birthdays cancer survivors are still having due to ceremonies. Caregivers are also saluted and teams advances in treatment and early detection; they offer a can range from high school groups to churches, time to ‘remember’ those loved ones and friends lost; business teams to families. For that 24-hour period, and relayers have an opportunity to ‘fight back’ against whether it’s during an early April rain or under a the disease in a very concrete way. scorching late June Central Valley sun, the teams And while the goal of Relay For Life is to raise come together with a vision and a purpose. At least money to fight against a dreaded disease, the event one member from each team must be on the track itself is full of music, fun, laughter, and camaraderie. at all times during Relay … and the all day, all night Communities come together in the festival-style atevent is designed to drive home the fact that cancer mosphere for a day and a night, supporting each other doesn’t sleep. along the way. In some communities, the event has now been It’s also a safe place to shed some tears, remembershortened to a 12- or 16-hour period, though many CONTINUED ON PAGE 72
That whole 24 hours, we celebrate and remember and fight back. Relay gives everyone the opportunity to do that.