What is Relay for Life?

Story posted April 23, 2023 in CommRadio, News by Natalie Simone

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Relay for Life is the world’s largest volunteer-based fundraising event that provides support for communities to attack cancer. Through funding, volunteers, and raising awareness, Relay for Life benefits the American Cancer Society.

The charity event hosts relays in over 20 countries which include local communities, university campuses, and virtual campaigns over six different continents.

“Relay for Life is like a big celebration," Trisha said, a cancer survivor and active participant.

During the event, teams or individuals fundraise by walking or running around a track path.

At Penn State on April 22, a Relay for Life event will occur from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the multi-sport facility on campus. Relay for Life schedules various activities within the event to make each person’s experience special.

At 4 pm, the “Survivor Ceremony” will take place when all survivors are welcomed and encouraged to walk or run a lap, then promptly at 4:45 pm, each survivor’s caregiver will join them in the “Caregiver Ceremony”. At sunset, around 8 p.m., Relay for Life will begin the “Local Luminaria Ceremony” where team members will light homemade paper lanterns that are decorated in remembrance of individuals who lost their battle with cancer.

Relay for Life has activities for everyone like games, food, and music.

“It’s positive. We have kid's activities. We have lots of booths that sell things. It all goes to a great cause, it all goes to the American Cancer Society,” Troy said, a former team captain.

Each year Relay for Life holds more than 5,000 events. The initiative began in May 1985 when Dr. Gordon Klatt walked and ran 86.6 miles and raised $27,000 in Tacoma, Wa., to donate to the American Cancer Society.

Now, 38 years later, Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society has built a community of 2.5 million people who are fighting to “save lives from cancer.”

Natalie Simone is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email nvs5790@psu.edu.