Relay for Life is a team-based community fund-raiser that supports the work of the American Cancer Society. Teams gather together overnight to walk the relay and participate in entertainment activities. The ceremonial lighting of the luminaries, in honor or memory of cancer patients and survivors, is a beautiful and moving experience for all. Team-raised donations help cancer victims, families of victims and survivors by funding support services, advocacy, research, education and valuable information. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times.
Funds raised in last year's Relay, held in June at Liberty High School's track, exceeded all expectations. The event garnered $202,437 for the American Cancer Society, a 52-percent increase over the prior year. It was an impressive follow-up, considering that in 2005, the far East County Relay For Life achieved the top first-year Relay in the state of California (and No. 9 in the nation). Team registrations were up 37 percent last year and the number of cancer survivors participating in the event increased 97 percent.
For 2007, event co-chairs Dave Wahl and Fran Bowman and more than 30 committee members are working hard to build on the success of the past two years. "Our focus for 2007 is not only to increase the number of teams, survivors and fund-raising efforts," said Wahl, "but to create a life-changing experience for Relay participants and cancer survivors."
The 2007 Relay returns to Liberty High School on June 23 and 24. According to Bowman, "Our goal is to have more than 100 teams, raise more than $300,000 for the American Cancer Society and involve more than 300 cancer survivors in the 24-hour event." There is still a need for volunteers and people interested in serving on the Planning Committee.
Shea Homes, winner of the 2007 Builder of the Year by Professional Builder magazine, developer of Trilogy at the Vineyards and owner of the Brentwood Golf Club, Summerset and Nines will be one of this year's title sponsors. Beginning in February, all monthly Planning Committee and Team Captain meetings will be held at Nines.
Anyone can participate, from children to seniors. Teams consist of 12 to 15 individuals and often represent local businesses, clubs, families, friends, hospitals, churches, schools and service organizations. According to Brett Morey, Relay For Life spokesperson, "You don't have to walk for 24 hours and you're not asking neighbors to sponsor you for $1 a mile. It's a fun event for the whole family."
A recent American Cancer Society report showed that there was a drop of 3,014 cancer deaths in the United States from 2003 to 2004, the most recent year for which mortality data is available from the National Center for Health Statistics. This drop was significantly larger than the 369 fewer deaths reported for the previous time period (2002 to 2003), which itself marked the first decline in actual number of cancer deaths in the more than 70 years since nationwide data began to be compiled. These results are encouraging; however, the 2015 goal for the American Cancer Society is to cut the mortality rate by half. The American Cancer Society projects there will be 559,650 deaths from cancer in 2007 alone. The society also predicts there will be 1,444,920 new cases of cancer in 2007; 766,860 among men and 678,060 among women.
The hope of Relay leaders is that more East County residents and business owners will get involved in helping them achieve the ambitious goals for this year's event. Together, everyone involved can make a difference in the fight against cancer.
For more information or to register for this year's event, contact Dave Wahl 634-1812, Fran Bowman 513-4515, or visit www.acsevents.org/relay/ca/brent wood. To contact The American Cancer Society, 24 hours a day, call (800) ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org.