LIMA — Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash., in May of 1985, raising $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. One year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event. Since then, the Relay For Life movement has grown to a worldwide event, raising more than $4 billion to fight cancer.
There are now more than 5,200 Relay For Life events across the United States.
“The Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s biggest fund-raiser. There is $19 million working on cancer research just in the state of Ohio. There would be no way we could get that much money for research,” said Sarah Burke, Relay For Life staff partner responsible for Auglaize county and Mercer county.
“We have a big database of everyone out there with cancer,” Burke said. “What I like best is there is never a time where we shut the door and say we cannot help. We have at our finger tips resources that the average person does not,” she added.
So far Relay for Life events held around the region have raised $253,000. The groups are still in the process of raising funds and a couple of counties have their events scheduled later in the year.
Allen County’s Relay For Life event was held last weekend at the OSU/Rhodes State campus. Fundraising for this event continues throughout August.
“We are hoping to net $103,000,” said Jesse Purcell, the Relay For Life staff partner responsible for Allen County and Hardin County events.
“The Relay For Life is one of the biggest events in Allen County. An average of 72 cents from every dollar does come back into the community,” said Purcell.
The remaining 28 cents per dollar goes to the American Cancer Society for research.
“We are proud to say that we have 46 Nobel prize winners in our research group,” said Purcell.
Sarah Burke told the story of a woman newly diagnosed with cancer. Her dog also ended up being diagnosed with cancer. The woman quit her treatment to take care of her dog. A person close to this woman called the free 800 number and told the cancer navigator about the woman’s situation. The navigator found an organization that would pay for the dog's treatment so the woman could re-start her treatment.
S.W. Auglaize County held its Relay For Life event. It is just shy of $27,000, but still doing fund-raising to reach the $35,000 goal. Greater Auglaize county will hold its Relay For Life event next weekend at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds in Wapakoneta.
Mercer county held its Relay For Life event June 14 and 15 at the Mercer County fairgrounds. The goal is $46,000.
Putnam county held its Relay For Life event May 31st and June 1st.
“The event was canceled after five hours due to threatening weather. By the end of the week we had raised $66,000; and actually now it is more around $78,000. We are trying to get up to $100,000. We are still fund-raising and still trying to get there,” said Cara Boehm, Putnam county Relay For Life staff partner.
Van Wert county held its Relay For Life event on May 3 and 4th at the Van Wert County Fairgrounds. It raised $45,000 and will continue fund-raising through the end of August.
Hardin county will hold its event July 19 and 20th, with a goal of $85,000.
The money from the Relay For Life events goes toward many things, including:
• A staffed 800 number (1-800-227-2345) where callers can receive answers to questions about cancer;
• Road to Recovery, a program that gives rides back and forth to treatment;
• Wig Bank at Memorial Medical Park, where each cancer survivor can pick out one free wig;
• Look Good Feel Better, which gives $250 worth of make-up, instruction on how to tie scarves, how to take care of wigs and education;
• Reach to Recovery, connecting newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with survivors who have gone through treatment before;
• Hope Lodge, in It Cleveland and Cincinnati, offering free lodge for the patient and caregiver in these cities; gas cards, reimbursing patients for traveling to treatment;
• The website, www.cancer.org, which gives information on cancer and research;
• and Man to Man, matching a man with prostrate cancer with a survivor who had prostrate cancer.
To donate to your county’s Relay For Life fundraising event, make checks payable to the American Cancer Society and mail them to 740 Commerce Drive, Suite B, Perrysburg, Ohio 43551. In the memo section of the check, please place the county that you would like the funds to go towards. To donate using a credit card, visit www.relayforlife.org, find relay for life and put in zip code, then follow prompts.
Area Relay for Life teams raise $253,000