Relay For Life is a fundraising organization dedicated to increasing the survival rate of cancer, reducing the the number of cancer victims and assisting cancer victims in terms of life quality.
This organization was established in Tacoma, Washington, in May 1985 by Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon. He spent 24 hours walking and running a total of 83 miles around a track at the University of Puget Sound in an effort to spread awareness of cancer and raise money for the American Cancer Society – he ended up raising over $27,000.
He demonstrated the impact of a single person. The following year, Dr. Klatt established a committee and hosted the first official Relay For Life event on that same track as the “City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.” A total of 19 teams participated, and together they raised $33,000.
Over the last several decades, Relay For Life has become one of the most successful organizations that supports and raises money for cancer.
Since 1996, Relay For Life has spread internationally, and Global Relay for Life events are being held in 26 different countries. This organization unifies communities across the globe who are determined to participate in the battle against cancer.
Additionally, hundreds of high schools and college campuses across the nation participate in Relay For Life. Virginia Tech is one of those schools. This community-wide movement began in 2001, and follows the school’s motto, “Ut Prosim,” That I May Serve. Relay For Life is Virginia Tech’s way of honoring those who have won their battle against cancer and work towards finding a cure.
In 2009, Virginia Tech earned recognition as the number one collegiate Relay For Life and one of the largest global Relay For Life events, a status it holds to this day.
Every April for the past 18 years , Tech has held a 12-hour event on the Drillfield, open to past and current Hokies as well as family and friends as a way of celebrating the year-long fundraising efforts of the school.
There are several teams that participate in Relay For Life every year. Traditionally, the night is filled with a plethora of activities, programs and booths set up by various organizations at Tech. It is also a night to remember those who fought the battle against cancer, both survivors and victims, through events like the The Survivor Lap, Survivor’s Banquet and Luminaria Ceremony.
Of course, Relay For Life goes beyond a single night in April. There are also several pre-fundraising events that occur prior to the official event including bake sales, car washes and percentage nights. This year, Virginia Tech had a percentage night at Moe’s on Friday, April 12. In addition, much of the fundraising occurs through social media.
Since its establishment, Virginia Tech Relay For Life has raised more than $5 million, all of which goes toward supporting cancer research. Over the last 10 years, Virginia Tech has raised half a million dollars every year.