By Mandee Leonhardt
EVANSTON — Eight teams gathered together Saturday, April 22, for Evanston’s annual Relay for Life event, which was held at the Rec Center this year.
Founded in 1985, Relay for Life is the largest volunteer movement in the world. Oncologist and marathon runner Dr. Gordy Klatt started the foundation to raise money for the American Cancer Society, whose mission is to save lives and celebrate life every day.
Donations to Relay for Life fund cancer research, prevention information, patient support programs and detection and treatment programs. The fundraiser is staffed and coordinated in more than 5,200 communities and 27 countries.
To start the event, there was an opening ceremony that included the national anthem and a survivor lap. Surrounding the track, luminarias were displayed to represent loved ones that have passed on during their cancer battle.
The Caregiver lap came afterward, recognizing those who have supported their loved ones while they were undergoing cancer treatments. Participating in this relay is meant to symbolize the ongoing fight against cancer.
Originally, Relay for Life takes place outdoors, starting in the light and going into the dark. The idea of doing the relay in darkness is to symbolize the fear a patient may have when diagnosed. It is right before the dark that the luminarias are lit. Because this year’s Relay took place indoors, the lights above the track were shut off.
According to Cancer Society member Tracey Wilson, out of just 19 Evanston cancer survivors, together they have lived to show up to Relay for Life for 191 years after diagnosis.