Published 5:48 pm Saturday, March 31, 2007

By Staff
Want to make a difference in someone’s life? It’s simple to do just that. All one needs to do is participate in a Relay for Life event.
Relay for Life raises money for research in the battle against cancer. Almost each of us knows someone who died from cancer, suffers from cancer or, thank goodness, survived cancer.
So when area Relay for Life teams have a bake sale, buy some brownies, pies and cakes. When Relay for Life teams conduct car washes to raise money, turn the car-wash site into a parking lot filled with vehicles waiting to be cleaned.
The Martin County Relay for Life program is putting on a flea market from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Martin County Farmers Market. That’s a good place to join the battle against cancer. Old Ford Church of Christ is having a fish fry from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at its Life Center, with proceeds going to the Beaufort County Relay for Life.
Fundraising activities such as these show that people in the Pamlico region want to stop cancer from claiming the lives of their loved ones.
How did this wonderful program come about? Relay for Life traces its roots back to the mid-1980s. Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., had a desire to increase the revenue his local American Cancer Society office raised. He chose to garner money for that office by doing something he enjoyed — running in marathons.
In May 1985, Klatt spent 24 hours running on the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound. He raised $27,000 to battle cancer. The program has mushroomed since that small beginning. In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay at the track at the Stadium Bowl. They raised $33,000 to fight cancer.
Relay for Life is much more than just people making laps around a track. For cancer survivors, it’s a celebration of being able to make those laps.
Relay for Life brings together families, friends, co-workers, businesses, schools, churches, hospitals and people with a common cause — making cancer disappear.
In the past 11 years, Beaufort County Relay for Life has raised more than $1 million in the fight against cancer. By kickoff time for last year’s Relay for Life, at least $140,000 had been raised. At the national level, some 4,800 Relay for Life events each year raise about $400 million each year.
Washington County has been acclaimed for raising the most money per capita in the whole southeastern portion of the United States.
As important as raising money is to the Relay for Life cause, it isn’t the cornerstone of the Relay for Life mission, according to Revel Johnson, a national vice president for Relay for Life.
It’s a commitment, celebration and creation of awareness communities across the nation should embrace.