The origins of the American Cancer Society Relay For Life date back to 1985, when a Tacoma, Washington doctor decided he would run for an entire day to raise money in the fight against cancer.
“Dr. Gordy Klatt started Relay as one man with a vision; he raised money for cancer research by running around a track for 24 hours to symbolize that cancer never sleeps,” said Carley Alcorn, Relay for Life development representative.
Klatt was able to raise $27,000 that day, with the support of friends, family and others who each paid $25 to run 30 minutes with him.
The Relay For Life since then has grown into a worldwide event that touches hundreds of thousands of people fighting cancer, those who have friends or loved ones battling the disease and everyday people who want to play a part in finding a cure.
Locally, one of the teams participating in the Buffalo Grove/Stevenson high schools Relay For Life is Team Chemosauraus Rex.
Adam Schwartz, 27, a Buffalo Grove resident and Stevenson High School alumnae, is a member of the team.
He said he reluctantly participated in a Relay For Life 10 years ago, after constant urgings from his brother.
“I fell in love after participating in my first Relay in 2002,” Schwartz said. “Cancer has always been in my family; everyone in my family has been touched by it.”
Schwartz, who has participated in Relay for the last 10 years, said it is empowering that average, everyday people can contribute to such a powerful cause.
“I may not be a researcher or a doctor, but I know I can make a true difference and fight back against this disease,” Schwartz said.
Another team member participating along with Schwartz is Heather Kornick of Elk Grove, who is currently undergoing treatment for adrenal cancer.
Kornick was diagnosed with the rare form of the disease in May of 2008, and has participated every year since then.
“It has been so inspiring to see how much support there is in the community; that I am not alone,” Kornick said.
The truly special thing about the event, Kornick said, is that it creates connections and long-lasting relationships that continue to provide that support.
And when she reflects on the start of it all with Klatt, she marvels at how it has grown to touch people everywhere.
“The fact that this event is something that one person started shows all of us that when you have a passion to do something great, amazing things can happen,” Kornick said.
“Relay is a family coming together, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing-seeing that logo is a shared invitation to get involved,” Schwartz said.
The opening ceremony for the 2012 Buffalo Grove Relay For Life will begin at 7 p.m. at Stevenson High School Friday, June 15. The survivor lap will follow at 7:30 p.m.
At 10:30 p.m., the luminaria ceremony will be held. Candles will be lit inside of bags filled with sand, each bearing the name of a person touched by cancer. Participants during this time walk a lap in silence.
On Saturday, June 16 at 6:30 a.m., the closing ceremony is scheduled.
For more information, or if you are interested in participating, visit the http://main.acsevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=40561&pg=entry.