Relay for Life raises money for cancer society

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    By Heidi Poelman

    Some people race against the clock when it comes to cancer. Others race around a track, all night long.

    Thousands of people will be running around different tracks across America this summer in the Relay for Life to help raise money for the American Cancer Society.

    “This is the largest fundraising event by any nonprofit organization in the world,” said Patrick Van Wagner, an income development specialist for the American Cancer Society. “Last year we raised over $170 million nationwide.”

    Two-thousand five hundred communities were involved in Relay for Life last yeat, he said. This year 3,000 communities will participate.

    The Orem run will take place at the Mountain View High School track starting at 6 p.m. on June 22.

    Teams made up of eight to 12 people will run until noon the next day, keeping one member of the team on the track at all times, Van Wagner said.

    Everyone is invited to sign up to run in the Relay for Life, said Toni Tomlinson, area director of Central Utah.

    “We love, need, want the support of anyone out there,” Tomlinson said.

    Brian Gurney, 25, from Orem, majoring in accounting, got involved in the Relay for Life two years ago when his friend was battling cancer.

    “It was really fun,” he said. “They do a nice job of making fun activities.”

    Gurney”s team raised $2,000 the first year they were involved and $1,300 last year, he said.

    “I think having students involved really energizes the run. It would be a great thing for us all to get involved with,” he said.

    Tomlinson said the Relay for Life was designed not only to raise money for cancer but to celebrate the fight against cancer, to honor those who have fought it in the past as well as those who are now in the battle.

    The relay will open with a “survivor”s lap” where cancer survivors will walk a lap around the track to commemorate their battle against cancer.

    “It”s a life-altering experience,” Tomlinson said. “That”s why it has become the largest fundraising event in the world.”

    One part of the fundraising comes from the sale of luminaries that are placed around the track.

    Van Wagner said people can buy a luminary to honor a cancer survivor or someone who has died in the fight. That person”s name will be written on the luminary.

    When the sun goes down, the lights of the stadium will be turned off and the only light will come from the luminaries honoring those who have battled with cancer, he said.

    “From what I”ve heard, it”s pretty emotional,” Van Wagner said.

    Other parts of the event include prizes, a tent-decorating contest, entertainment and a breakfast for the participants.

    To register for the event, a team must donate at least $100 dollars from fundraising, but $1,000 is the typical donation, Van Wagner said.

    Anyone wanting to register to run in the relay should go to the American Cancer Society at 286 E. 600 N. by Monday, June 18.

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