Area parks and tracks will soon be filled with people walking into the night to help make a difference in the fight to end cancer.
Relay For Life season is upon us.
Relay For Life is a team fundraising event where team members take turns walking around a track or designated path. Each event is six to 24 hours in length and each team is asked to have a member on the track at all times to signify that cancer never sleeps.
Cancer patients don’t stop because they’re tired, and for one night, neither do we.
I first became involved with Relay For Life in 2012 as a team captain and have been relaying with family and friends ever since.
My grandmother was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and told me about a dinner she attended that recognized cancer survivors in our hometown of Malden.
Never having heard of the event, I began doing some research and stumbled across a Relay For Life event being held right in my hometown.
My grandmother went downhill quickly after her diagnosis and was unable to attend the 2012 Survivor Dinner. She passed away three months before my first Relay event.
My grandmother and I were very close and I was distraught over how quickly everything happened and was looking for a way to deal with my grief.
I recruited my family and friends to join me in fundraising and forming a Relay For Life team in her honor.
While I was upset and even mad the awareness and funds we were generating were unable to help my grandmother at the time, I found a sense of comfort knowing her illness was not in vain.
Through Relay For Life I have made new friends, been able to share stories about my grandmother’s journey and realized I am helping make a small difference in the fight against cancer right in my own community.
I encourage everyone to find a Relay For Life or American Cancer Society event in your community.
Sadly, most people have been affected by cancer in one way or another, whether they are fighting the fight themselves or a family member or friend is.
Everything ACS does benefits everyone in our community in some way.
ACS provides the funds for cutting edge research that can lead to better treatments for people in your neighborhood.
ACS also advocates for better laws to help people in our state threatened by cancer.
ACS representatives can be found in communities providing people with free information and services, when and where they need it.
So even if some of the money you raise through and event helps a researcher in another state investigate a new cancer treatment or to fund the development of a new program or service, everyone in your community will still benefit.
Rather than a Relay For Life event in Poplar Bluff this year, planning is in the works for a “Celebration of Hope” gala/cocktail party in September.
The event is still in the early planning phase, according to American Cancer Society Community Development Manager Shanna Hayes.
New members are needed for the Celebration of Hope planning committee.
The next planning meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14 at the Wine Rack.
For more information, Hayes can be reached at email@example.com or 573-718-3746.
ACS is partnering with a pediatric cancer research organization for this event, St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
Through this joint initiative, ACS and St. Baldrick’s, an organization that has been a part of nearly every childhood cancer research breakthrough made in the last 20 years, will support research that will expand testing within clinical trials, maximize the access to information and help identify novel approaches to treatment.
According to the foundation, more than half of childhood cancer patients in the U.S. are treated on a clinical trial. Even those who are not, benefit from past clinical trials.
Each of these trials is created to learn the answers to specific questions, with the goal of improving outcomes for kids with cancer and decreasing late effects.
Very rarely is there enough funding to do anything outside of the trial’s primary purpose. Even additional information gathered could help deliver new treatments for kids with cancer and impact future generations.
To learn more about this collaboration and how to get involved, visit www.stbaldricks.org/timeout or www.cancer.org/stbaldricks.
If you are looking to get involved or attend a Relay For Life event, two will be held in the area in May.
Stoddard County Relay For Life will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, May 3 at the Dexter East Park.
Dunklin County Relay For Life will begin at 6 p.m. Friday, May 31 at the Kennett Downtown Square.
Relay For Life and ACS events began as a grief outlet for me, but have now become something close to my heart and my way of helping in the fight against cancer.
Please think about joining me and other volunteers Celebrate Hope.
Denise Kinder is a staff writer at the Daily American Republic. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .