The Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society

By: Jim Busby

Each year in the USA the American Cancer Society organizes an event to help raise awareness about this disease. It is an event that takes place in numerous communities across the USA and is called "Relay for Life". The event itself because it is so big will normally take place in a local park, fairground or field or gymnasium at the local high school.
The people who participate do so as teams and throughout the event they take it in turns to run or walk a lap. These people are then sponsored by others for every lap they complete either as an individual as a team and the money raised helps towards fighting cancer. As well as the funds being used to raise awareness of this disease the funds raised are also used to carry out research to help prevent it.
The "Relay for Life" event is very important but for the participants the Luminaria Ceremony which takes place before the relay begins is just as important and special. At the start of this ceremony candles or glow sticks will be produced and lit and either placed on a stage or held to remember those who fight against this disease has been lost. Then following the lighting of the candles or glows sticks prayers are said before a minutes silence takes place so those participant can remember those loved ones they have lost.
This event as mentioned above takes place overnight so many of the participants will camp out in tents close to where the relay is taking place. At many of these campsites the participants have the chance to place in bags lighted candles or glow sticks outside their tents if they want. But due to issues regarding safety most people today are placing several yellow glow sticks into bags outside their tents rather than lighted candles, also many will carry lighted candles or glow sticks as they complete their laps throughout the night.
In fact those who go to watch this event rather than participate will see the campsites awash with the glow of the candles or the yellow glow sticks even before the Luminaria ceremony begins. The reason for this is many people will light them as dusk begins because they want to help further set the right mood for this important part of this event.
The great thing about using glow sticks in place of candles is that they won't be affected by the weather should it turn a little inclement. Plus they can also be used to write out words that mean something to those taking part such as "Cure" or "Hope".
Along with many of those participating in the event carrying candles or glows sticks many will also wear Hope bracelets at the event also. These are worn to show to others not just those participating in Relay for Life that they care strongly about the cause. They come in a variety of colors and the one generally most commonly associated with cancer is pink.
Through both the annual "Relay for Life" event and the wearing of the Hope bracelets more and more of us are being made aware of what effect this particular disease is having on others lives. The money raised through such events is being used to not only treat but prevent this disease and so the number of people who are losing their lives to it each year is being reduced.

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