The power of one

Published 10:55 pm Saturday, May 4, 2013


A victory lap traditionally takes place at the end of a race. Not so with Relay For Life. Arguably the most important lap of the 24-hour event happens right at its start, when cancer survivors line up to take their victory-over-cancer lap.
Night falls, and next comes the moment when luminaries rounding the entire track are lit. Those walking are greeted at every step by the names of those who either continue their fight against the disease or, sadly, have lost the battle.
It’s a symbolic ceremony and a reminder that there is much more work to be done.
To think that 28 years ago, one man started it all because he felt the need to help. One man walked a track for 24 hours and his friends paid to keep him company through the many laps. In the end, he raised $27,000 for the fight against cancer.
What’s remarkable is not necessarily that initial event. Instead, it is the extensive support it’s received from across the globe, from people in Malaysia, Ireland, Australia, Guatemala, Portugal, Zambia and many other countries who walk to raise funds for a common cause: eradicating cancer. Because cancer knows no borders.
When Dr. Gordy Klatt organized the first event in Tacoma, Wash., in 1985, did he even imagine that his 83-mile walk would spur an international movement? Did he realize that his effort would create a worldwide community that has raised $4 billion used to continue the fight against the disease?
Likely not. But by putting forth his own effort, what he did was singlehandedly show the world that anyone and everyone could help to fight the disease that has touched us all in some way.
One event has grown to thousands; one person has become 4 million. All it took was one person taking that first step.