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Relay for Life: Who we are, what we do and why

By Marion Haywood
Posted Friday, July 1, 2011

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Pittsboro, NC - The 2011 Pittsboro Relay for Life has come and gone. Good organization, good turnout, good weather- and a great cause- all worked together to create a successful Relay.

We have not done as well ensuring the public 1) understands what this event is, 2) why people stay up all night and 3) what happens to the money contributed. A few brief answers are here while much more information is available at

1. Relay for Life is the signature fund raising event for the American Cancer Society, much as the Memory Walk is for the Alzheimer’s Association and the Jerry Lewis Telethon is for Muscular Dystrophy. Relays are held all across the country and some internationally as well. Participating teams set up, in this case around the high school track, offering food and fun activities while members of each team take turns walking laps all night. This makes it a Relay - not a race. A variety of entertainment continues through the night as well.

2. Participants stay up all night because cancer never sleeps and nights are often the most difficult time for someone receiving cancer treatment. This, in addition to the Survivor Lap and the Luminary Ceremony, are the ways survivors are honored and those who have passed on are remembered.

3. Money is raised throughout the year by participating teams (luminaria sales, golf tournament, 5&10 K runs, brunch, cake auctions, gospel singings, prize drawings, etc.) as well as at the event. All money is used to fund cancer (all types) research. $21 million dollars in cancer research was funded in NC in 2009. UNC, Duke, Wake Forest, Davidson College & Research Triangle Institute were all recipients. There is an impressive list of research accomplishments available on the ACS website.

I hope this has answered some of your questions about Relay for Life. Chatham County has two actual Relay events – one in Siler City and one in Pittsboro. The 2011 Relay cycle ends on August 1.

If you would like to make a donation, you (individual or corporate) may do so on the website or mail a check to American Cancer Society 8300 Health Park Drive, Raleigh, NC. Make checks to ACS. To participate as a volunteer or a sponsor in the 2012 Relay activities in Pittsboro or Siler City contact Natalie Leary

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