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Relay for Life participants take strides toward cure for cancer

Sept. 3, 2003

By Kalin Cogar, reporter

Every year the American Cancer Society holds an all-night relay in cities across America and eight foreign countries to find a cure for cancer. Waco's relay date will be 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Baylor's Hart Patterson Track and Field Complex.

The event will start with two guest speakers - cancer survivors Duke Denk, a Robinson High School student, and Diana Ramey, Baylor's assistant vice president for enrollment management. The relay, which lasts until 7 a.m. Sept. 28, is designed to celebrate cancer survivors as well as to raise money for the cancer society's research.

Relay for Life started in Washington in the mid-1980s when Dr. Gordy Klatt ran 83 miles in 24 hours, raising $27,000 dollars for the American Cancer Society. The next year Klatt formed a small committee of family and friends. Klatt's committee got the support of more than 200 followers and 19 teams for the first relay. Waco has participated in the event for the past five years. Last year Waco raised $173,000 and event organizers have a set goal to raise $190,000 for this year's event.

'It's a celebration of survivorship,' Pam Edens, Baylor co-chairwoman for the event, said.

Cancer survivors are also encouraged to participate in special survivor events, such as the survivor lap, which is the first lap of the relays, a survivor's tent and wearing special survivor T-shirts.

'As a survivor it was great to see so many people supporting...It was neat to see that even a small city like Waco can pull out so many people out from the community to support us,' Courtney Cannatti, a Baylor junior and cancer survivor, said. Cannatti has done the relay serveral times.

The relay works by having various organizations from schools, business and neighborhoods to form teams. Each team has their own theme displayed in a tent. Teammates take turns walking continuously around the track, never letting the team's baton stop moving during the 12-hour relay.

Teams have eight to 15 people, and organizers have set a goal of 120 team entries from Baylor and the surrounding community.

'We are looking to find sororities, fraternities and other non-Greek organizations, even sports groups to participate. We would really like to see more young person involvement,' Debbi Williams, Baylor's co-chair, said.

Each team that enters is asked to raise $100 through fund-raising events, such as car washes, bake sales and Luminaria cards.

Luminaria cards are $10 minimum donations for luminaria bags, which are designed to remember those who have fallen to cancer. There is a luminaria ceremony during the relays to pay extra tribute to all the people who have a bag devoted to them.

'Most teams are formed to memorialize or remember those who have lost their battle with cancer,' Edens said. 'If we can get one more team than last year, it will be a great success.'

Teams can sign up on the American Cancer Society web site or though Baylor's Student Activities Office.