Sonoma State to host annual Relay for Life

The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was started back in the 1980s by a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash. 

The surgeon, known as Dr. Gordy Klatt, spent 24 hours walking around the track at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Some of Klatt’s friends paid a total of $25 to walk with him and in the end, they raised a total of $27,000 dollars. The $27,000 was raised to find a cure for cancer.

The next year, Klatt and his friends raised a grand total of $33,000. There were 19 teams that joined in that year. Over the years it continued to grow.

This year, Sonoma State University will be hosting the event on April 4 at 10 a.m. and the event will continue to April 5 at 10 a.m. 

“This is an event that everyone should get the chance to attend, especially if they know someone or know of someone where cancer has been a part of their life,” said Hannah Zucherman, an alumna of Sonoma State University. 

“I have been involved in Relay for Life at Sonoma State for four years. I went to an event my freshman year where the American Cancer Society was tabling and I was very interested because I had been involved in the Relay For Life back home. I have had many friends and family affected by cancer; including all three of my mother’s aunts. Two passed away and one was a survivor.”

The American Cancer Society, Relay for Life walk gives people from all over the chance to walk for someone. 

Whether it be for a friend or family member that has cancer, has survived cancer or has lost the war with cancer, everyone is welcome to participate.

“Relay for Life is a 24-hour event where all the money raised helps support the American Cancer Society (ACS). These services include a 24-hour hotline to help those how have questions about what it means when they are told that they have cancer,” said Zucherman. “ACS also helps to support survivors as well as current patients. They have programs such as Road to Recovery where volunteers drive patients to and from doctors’ appointments as well as Look Good Fell Better which helps women who are battling cancer by providing free cosmetology services and free wigs.”

Every Relay for Life starts with something known as the “survivors lap.” The survivors lap is a time when people are able to run or walk with people that have had a victory with their fight with cancer. 

It is an inspiring time for all to listen or to tell stories about their fight with cancer throughout the event. 

This is also a time where the caregivers for Relay for Life are recognized for the time and effort they put into the organization.

When it gets dark, there is something known as the “Luminary Ceremony.” 

The Luminary Ceremony is a chance for everyone at the event to take their time and write the names of people they have lost, people who are still fighting and people who have overcome the fight with cancer on tiny bags. 

Each bag is filled with a little bit of sand and a candle and is then lit up. The whole floor is covered with these candle lit bags and creates an illuminated and inspiring atmosphere.

 It’s a time for many participants to reflect upon the people they know who have defeated cancer or who have been defeated by cancer.

“Relay for Life is 24 hours but we do not ask everyone to be on the track for the whole time. We have teams and each individual team is what makes Relay for Life so fantastic because without these teams we don’t have an event,” said Zucherman.

It is recommended each individual try to raise $100; however, there is no minimum amount of money one needs to raise in order to take part in the Relay for Life event.

“We ask that each individual raise $100 but we do not turn anyone away who has not raised that. $100 gets you an event t-shirt and we usually have a special prize for them on the day of the event,” said Zucherman.

The Relay for Life gives hope to the family and friends of those who have battled cancer that the ones who were lost, but will never be forgotten.