Relay For Life

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Relay For Life (often shortened to Relay) is a fundraising event of the American Cancer Society, and is now held in many other countries. It is an overnight event designed to spread awareness of cancer prevention, treatments and cures, celebrate survivorship and raise money for research to find more cures for cancer.


Although all Relays vary, there are a few common features:

  • An opening ceremony followed by a Survivors Lap
  • A ceremony emphasizing "hope" and celebrating "cure"; this is variously called Luminaria, the Candle of Hope, or other names
  • A closing ceremony, including one last lap around the track in which everyone takes part.

In 2007, the "closing ceremony" in most Relay communities will be renamed the "Fight Back Ceremony." During this ceremony, Relay For Life participants will FIGHT cancer by making a pledge to help rid the world of the disease. Pledges can range from personal health decisions to helping others learn about cancer. This new ceremony is part of the new slogan and core values of Relay For Life: "Celebrate. Remember. Fight Back."


Although the event name is commonly written out by participants and journalists as "Relay for Life" with a lowercase f, the name on all official Relay For Life merchandise and information contains an uppercase F for branding purposes. This branding is ever important to the American Cancer Society. As a non-profit organization with limited resources, the American Cancer Society continues to promote its brands through fundraising and awareness.


Relay has been exported to the online virtual world Second Life.[1]

In 2007, Relay For Life volunteers worldwide were able to begin sharing ideas with each other on a support site listed at site is very helpful for common purposes.

After the Virginia Tech Massacre, shooting victim Caitlin Hammaren's Relay for Life online donation page was still active. When it was publicized on MSNBC's Clicked blog the donations went from about $100 to many thousands.



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