“Relay for Life” by Amy Pastorella

Relay for Life

UTICA – Relay For Life

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life has called Utica home for over 20 years.  Each year local residents and businesses come together in the form of teams to raise money for cancer research and awareness.  Cancer is a disease that has affected many people in many ways. Are you involved in the Relay For Life?  If so, we are glad to have you!  You are an inspiration for all you to do fundraise and make a difference in the lives of others.  If you are not involved in Relay, what are you waiting for? 

Although Relay For Life has been around our area for many years, it has been a national event since 1985.  It started, with one man, a dream and a track. In May of 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, wanted to raise awareness of cancer and contribute money to his local cancer charity.  He spent a demanding and exhausting 24-hours walking around a track and raised over $27,000.  How one person can make a difference!

Since the efforts of Dr. Klatt, the Relay For Life has become the largest fundraising event for cancer all around the word.  It is celebrated by more than 4 million people in over 20 countries.  Relay is an inspirational overnight event that empowers and brings together local communities to fight cancer.

Here at home, Relay is an event that has grown to not only continue to raise money in Utica, but the event has branched out to other local communities in the Mohawk Valley.  Last year the Relay For Life in Utica had 120 survivors registered, around 40 teams and raised $120,000.  Pretty incredible!  Just think what was added to that amount from the surrounding events!

Are you considering joining one of the eight community Relay For Life events in the Mohawk Valley?  We love visitors, but encourage people to join the event in the form of a team.  Teams can be made up of businesses or families and friends, schools, sports teams to name a few.  Teams set fundraising goals and try to reach that monetary ambition in various ways.  At the actual event, teams camp out at their registered locations and relay around the local track, with members from each team walking at all times.  Relay for life starts with a lap honoring survivors, then a lap for caregivers and then anyone from each team can walk. Music and activities are at each Relay For Life for participants to enjoy.  In the evening, luminaria candles are set out for the luminaria walk to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer. 

The funds raised from Relay For Life go to support the American Cancer Society’s mission to help people get well, stay well, find cures and fight back. It enables anyone facing a cancer diagnosis to connect with support and resources 24 hours a day through the cancer information line at 1.800.227.2345, as well as funding local programs like Look Good, Feel Better (which provides complimentary makeovers for patients coping with the appearance-related side effects of treatment) and Road to Recovery (which provides volunteer rides to treatment for those with no other way to get there) – as well as funding life-saving research and many other support services for patients & their caregivers.

In Utica, Relay takes over the quad on the campus of Mohawk Valley Community College the weekend of June 10th and 11th.  Our theme for the event this year is “Colors of Courage.”  Teams pick a color that represents a type of cancer, such as gold for childhood cancer or blue for prostate cancer, and campout for the weekend.

This touching event is unlike any other of its kind, In fact, it is the ONLY one of its kind. Want to get involved?  Call our local American Cancer Society at (315) 724-8126 or visit www.RelayForLife.org to find information on any of our local Relay For Life events. 

Relay For Life Events throughout the Mohawk Valley and Surrounding Regions:

Relay For Life of Herkimer County is June 10th & 11th

Relay For Life of Dolgeville is June 17th

Relay For Life of Utica is June 10th & 11th

Relay For Life of Rome is June 3rd & 4th

Relay For Life of the North Country is May 20th  

Relay For Life of Madison County is May 20th

Relay For Life of Camden is June 3rd

Relay For Life of Sauquoit is June 10th

Relay For Life of SUNY POLY is March 31st & April 1st***

Relay For Life of Utica College is April 7th***

***The two college events are for the college community (not open to community teams, though the public can visit).


**Note that some events are not 24-hours

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