Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Fight Back Against Cancer At F.C.’s Relay for Life

This year’s Relay for Life of Falls Church will be held on Saturday, June 2 at the George Mason High School and will run all night until the morning of June 3.

From time to time questions come up – what is Relay all about? Who participates in Relay? Is it just for kids? Is it only for people who have cancer?

While the main objective of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life is to raise money for cancer research and cancer patients, a significant part of the program also celebrates the lives of cancer survivors and remembers those who lost their lives to cancer. The format of the event is comprised of teams of all ages and representations – high school students, college age kids, adults of all ages, teams from various businesses or organizations. These teams establish monetary goals and raise money both before and during the event.

After their fundraising efforts they spend the night on the field honoring cancer survivors and remembering those who have fought or are fighting this disease, raising money and awareness to benefit current cancer victims. For some people this event is very personal; maybe they have lost a loved one to cancer and wish to honor them, or maybe they are a cancer survivor and are there to celebrate. There are others who just want to raise money to fight this disease.

Relay for Life of Falls Church is for everyone in our community, and all of us can participate in one way or another. Examples: Are you someone who can rally a group of friends, co-workers or family members to create a Relay for Life team, do fundraising, and participate in the event? Come up with a name, go to the website and sign up your team. It doesn’t have to be a lot of people – four or five can make a big difference. But you don’t have to be on a team to help. Do you live next door to/ work alongside/live with someone who already has a team? Help them by donating. If you can afford it, make it a big donation; if you can’t, donate whatever amount you’re comfortable with. They’ll be happy whatever it is.

Can you help the team raise money? Some teams do yard sales, some teams do bake sales, and some of them hold fundraisers at local restaurants. Maybe you can donate a batch of cookies to their bake sale, or offer something from your attic for their yard sale, or go have dinner at their restaurant fundraiser.

During the Relay for Life event there is a program called the Luminary Ceremony which is held just after dark. Luminaries labeled with the names of cancer victims to be remembered are lighted and set up around the track. Relay participants and members of the community then take a solemn walk around the track to honor and remember these people. You can make a donation by purchasing a luminary, giving the name of someone you would like to be remembered. You don’t have to be at the ceremony to honor someone but I encourage you to attend. This is one of the most moving ceremonies you will ever experience in your life.

Can you volunteer? You don’t need to stay all night. We need people to help with logistics, registration, campsite setup, things that would only require a couple hours of time for a great cause. Relay needs people to help out with the physical stuff, but we also need people who can sit behind a table and help keep things moving and organized. You’re not there alone, our team will already be there; we just need a few more hands.

So many have already put a lot of work into this community effort; maybe you saw the 20 businesses in Falls Church that allowed their windows to be painted in purple to bring awareness to Relay. They have since helped to distribute Relay information to their customers. We are very grateful. Relay for Life Committee volunteers have been meeting since December to ensure a successful event. Their generous donation of time and effort is greatly appreciated.

I hope this answered most questions that might still be out there, but if not, there are resources for more information. The website for all of this is www.fallschurchrelay.org , and our Event Chairperson is Katie Gibson who can be reached at [email protected] You can also contact me at [email protected] .

Please look closely at how you might be able to help with the Relay for Life of Falls Church event. Cancer is something that affects our whole community; Relay for Life is a way for the whole community to fight it back. Whatever you can do will be warmly received and appreciated.