A Remembered Relay


Jo Fogarasi, writer

On Saturday, June 11th West Bloomfield hosted a Relay For Life at West Bloomfield High School. Relay For Life is an overnight community fundraising walk where teams walk for twenty four hours, while working booths where they sell goods to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The event started In May 1985,  when Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society. In 1986, three hundred and forty supporters joined the overnight event. Since then, the Relay For Life movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, raising nearly five billion dollars  to fight cancer.

The event started at 10am with an opening ceremony and a survivors lap. Throughout the day, the event celebrated the survivors by playing games, sharing stories, and competing in contests. The event also included a hair donating station where people were able to donate hair to make wigs for children with cancer. Paige Sutherlin, a highschool student at WBHS donated her hair for the first time at the event. She said, “I donated my hair because I know so many people affected by cancer who would have appreciated it and it is important to give back. I am so fortunate to be healthy and I know someone will appreciate my donation.” Walking around at the event, Howard Rosen, a representative from Bub Joe’s team was asking people to sign a petition to raise tobacco tax by a dollar a pack. They plan on using that money to educate to youth to not smoke. Anyone of any age was allowed to sign, and their goal was to get five hundred signatures. Sheryl Beinstock from team Beinstock Bloomies said, “We all worked together to make this amazing event happen and we surpassed our fundraising goal and we have raised a little over $250,000 this year.”

At about 10pm the Luminaria ceremony started. Relay For Life participants and donors remembered loved ones lost to cancer and honored those battling the disease by dedicating luminaria bags. Many of these bags were decorated by family and friends of the person being dedicated. The bags were lined around the football field and bleachers, and were later lit up once it got dark. The ceremony was truly beautiful, as participants walked the field in silence looking at all the bags. The bags were used to celebrate a life, and although filled many with a sad feeling, they also made people feel happy that they fought a good fight. After the ceremony, participants either continued walking until the morning, or camped out. The morning after consisted of closing ceremonies, and participants went back to their cars with smiles on their faces remembering the lives of many.

Besides participating in the event, there are many ways one can make a contribution to the American Cancer Society. One can donate to their research program which has been ongoing for sixty- five years now. By donating to the research program, American Cancer Society can afford equipment to help with the search for the cure. The American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge also takes donations. The Hope lodge is a place where cancer pacients and caregivers can stay while focusing on a patient’s recovery. Each Hope Lodge offers cancer patients and their caregivers a free place to stay when their best hope for treatment may be in another city. Not having to worry about where to stay or how to pay for lodging allows guests to focus on getting well. Every Hope Lodge also offer resources and information about cancer and how best to fight the disease.  Join the fight for more birthdays and make sure to donate to American Cancer Society today.