Ever since my first year in middle school, I have been an active team member for Relay for Life. When I first heard about it from a video I saw in class it seemed to be a bunch of college kids talking about an event I didn’t fully understand. Looking back, they were probably high schoolers but as a middle school kid, it didn’t appear to be something I could be part of. But one day I saw a sign about joining Relay for Life and I attended the meeting to see what it was all about.
Relay for Life information found on the American Cancer Society website describes the event as a walk where team members take turns walking around a track or a designated path. Events vary between 6 and 24 hours and each team is required to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps. Teams set up campsites and collect donations for food, goods, games, and activities all of which count towards their team fundraising goal.
I signed up and began creating a team. I got my friends to join and we started raising money. We’ve kept up our team and have been successful with fundraising. Now that I am in high school I realize that Relay for Life is and should be a community event and can be supported by anyone of any age.
My whole family is now involved with this effort. When I was younger, my parents chaperoned my team and now we are all members of the committee. During my first year, my dad and I spent hours together building a “jail” that sits on a trailer near the Relay site. People attending the event pay us one dollar per minute to put someone in the jail. We chase down the person and handcuff him or her and put them into the jail. People love this feature of the Relay and there’s always a crowd taking pictures of their friends who have been “arrested.” I share many great memories with my friends doing this or playing frisbee on the turf. All these good times have brought joy to me and the friends who join me in this effort.
Joining Relay has allowed me to become more involved with the Bedford community. I meet new people and talk with others from our town. Last year the American Cancer Society wanted to stop Bedford’s Relay for financial reasons. The committee fought hard to keep the event in Bedford and we raised over $40,000.
I have always wanted the Relay to involve more of the community. Relay is very popular with middle school and high school students but I would like to see broader participation. Getting friends to join as a team is fun and enjoyable and most importantly, raises more money. (This year the Relay will be virtual and details are not yet final.) Everyone has been touched by cancer somehow and we can fight against it by joining Relay for Life. Relay is staffed and coordinated by volunteers in more than 5200 communities and 20 countries.
Money raised from the Relay supports cancer research and the development of better treatments, the promotion of healthy lifestyles, early detection, and ensuring emotional support and accurate information is available to those who have been touched by cancer.
You can find more information by Googling Relay for Life 2020 or visiting the website of the American Cancer Society.