Relay For Life

Websites: and
District 4-A1 Chairperson:
Jennifer Gass

“Relay for Life” is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event and it is the largest fundraising event in the nation. It began back in May 1985, when Dr. Gordon Klatt decided he wanted to help his local cancer society chapter raise additional funds and walked a single-man 24-hour marathon around a track in Tacoma, Washington. During that 24-hour period, he raised $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight this nation’s biggest health concern. Today, Relay has grown from that single site in Tacoma, Washington, to more than 5,000 communities across the nation.

“Relay” is an overnight event dedicated to celebrating survivors, remembering loved ones, and raising money to fight cancer. The event is 24 hours because cancer never sleeps. Teams of 8-24 members collect donations prior to the event.

During the event, team members take turns walking around the track. Cancer survivors are honored by taking the first lap around the track, and it is there that we celebrate their victory. At dusk, the Luminaria Ceremony takes place. Each luminaria bag bears the name of a person who has battled cancer, a caregiver, or a doctor who has administered aid. The bags are lit at dusk and burn throughout the night, honoring and memorializing those who have faced cancer and lighting the way for walkers.

Funds raised are used by the American Cancer Society in four ways:

  • Research—to find a cure;
  • Education—to prevent cancer and help with early detection;
  • Advocacy—to enact policies that help save lives;
  • Service—for for cancer patients, for survivors, and for their families.

Statewide, 75% of funds raised here are spent on national and California-based research, prevention, early detection, treatment, and patient support services.

Additional information is available at the website: