Relay for Life helps community grieve and celebrate

Posted: Friday, July 05, 2002

At midnight July 28, names of those who have died, survived and are still struggling with cancer will grace luminarias as they cast light on the track at Juneau's Relay for Life event.

"Everyone's been touched by cancer of some sort," said Lisa Mills, the American Cancer Society's community development manager for outlying areas of Alaska. The relay is a way for the community to come together to grieve for those lost to cancer and celebrate the lives of those who have survived.

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life is a 12-hour relay walk or run to raise money for cancer research and treatment.

The relay was born in 1985 when Dr. Gordon Klatt, colorectal surgeon and avid runner, hit a Tacoma, Wash., track and circled it for 24 hours to raise money for ACS. That year, he ran and walked 83 miles and raised $27,000.

The next year, he was joined by 220 supporters on 19 teams, and over the next 17 years, the event has spread to 3,000 communities in the United States and seven foreign countries.

The event has never been held in Juneau before this year. The event was already held this year in Fairbanks, Kenai, Wasilla and Anchorage.

Teams of eight to 12 people will camp out at Dimond Park overnight and take turns walking or running around a track or path. A representative of the team should be on the track at all times.

Participants and spectators are welcome to camp in tents or RVs near the track. There will be fun and entertainment throughout the night, and luminaria candles are available for a small donation.

Refreshments will be served during the event, which starts at 6 p.m. July 27 and ends at 6 a.m. July 28. For more information, call volunteer Tuula Marquardt at 789-3826 or visit the American Cancer Society Web site at

"The goal is to have 15 teams," Marquardt said. "It looks pretty good and we hope to meet and even exceed our goal."

Emily Wescott can be reached at

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