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Relay For Life Kick's Off Monday

March 26, 2009
Reinbeck Courier

The Grundy County Relay for Life kickoff event is Monday, March 30, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at three locations in Grundy County: 1101 12th St. in Grundy Center, hosted by Lois Saylor, call (319) 825-3340; the Dike Public Library (133 East Elder St.), hosted by Mary Ascher, call (319) 989-2933; and Fountain on Main in Reinbeck 413 Main St., hosted by Glenda Billerbeck, call (319) 345-2578. For more information, go to

Celebrating 25 years of Relay for Life

The American Cancer Society is celebrating 25 years of Relay for Life this year, an event that now involves 3.5 million people in 20 countries.

Friday, June 12 will mark Grundy County's 12th year of relays. In the first 11 years, an average of 20 teams per year in Grundy County have raised $474,234 to fight cancer. This year, the Grundy County event will be at the Dike-New Hartford track in Dike. To participate in the planning, form a team, invite a survivor, or join the event, contact Jean Garaventa at (319) 345-6748.

The now international charitable event was launched in 1985 by a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash.

Dr. Gordy Klatt decided to walk/jog laps around a track. Friends would donate $25 to join him for 30 minutes. After 24 hours, after 83 miles, he raised $27,000.

What he could not have known is that he was starting a worldwide movement that now 25 years later involves 3.5 million people in 20 countries around the globe, who believe the same thing that he does that HOPE in action can save lives.

Today's Relay has added special elements. The Survivors' Lap honors and includes all cancer survivors in the local area coming together along with family and friends to pay special tribute to their survival over their cancer diagnosis by walking around the track together.

Luminaries are purchased in memory of or in honor of someone who has been touched by cancer.

These bags are placed around the track and lit for an emotional program of inspirational stories that highlight the importance of fighting cancer. This is the Luminaria Ceremony.

Why overnight? The Relay goes over night to symbolize the fight of a cancer survivor and their family.

The darkness of the long hours represents the dark side of cancer as you hear the words, "You have cancer." You feel there is no hope in sight. You start your treatments. You're nauseous.

You have no hair. Or you're exhausted from caring for your loved one and from the agony of knowing there's nothing you can do to make them healthy again.

The sign of the morning dawn represents the success of a cancer survivor. The tumor is shrinking. Your treatments are working. You're getting your appetite back. Your loved one is well enough to get out, visit with friends even if for just a few minutes. There is HOPE.

This is why people Relay, organizers say. It is their way to eliminate cancer. People come together every year, continue to walk in the footsteps of one man, who had a vision, and with every step come closer to the day when no one has to hear the words "You have cancer."



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