Floyd County Relay for Life-2

A group of cancer survivors begin the survivor walk around the Highland Hills Middle School track at the Floyd County Relay for Life in 2019. The annual event raises money for cancer research and recognizes community members affected by cancer.

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series to remind readers of what their participation in the Relay for Life means to those who fight cancer.

We learned in the first two earlier stories about Relay For Life that Dr. Gordy Klatt started the first Relay in 1985 in Tacoma, Wash., and that our first Relay in Floyd County took place in 1996.

Relay For Life allows people to gather their friends, family, or co-workers to come together as a team to have fun and raise money in the fight against cancer.

Relay For Life symbolizes the journey of a cancer survivor. Many Relay events start in the evening. The sunset and impending darkness symbolize the physical effects, emotion, and mental state that a cancer patient, who is undergoing treatment, may have. There are a lot of people who are there when the ceremony opens, symbolizing the support that cancer patients receive throughout their cancer journey. They know that they are not alone in this fight, on and off the track.

As the event begins, the cancer survivors take their first lap around the track (or their driveways and neighborhoods, this June 5, due to Covid19 restrictions). Everyone cheers them on. A special part of our Floyd County Relay is having the caregivers meet our survivors halfway through their first lap. It is always a powerful moment for everyone.

While the size of the teams participating will vary, participants take turns walking laps. As cancer survivors journey through their treatment, they may become sick or exhausted. As Relay participants, we may feel tired as the evening wears on, but we keep going, just like all the survivors who are determined to beat their cancer. Between laps, much like breaks in treatment, Relayers play games, snack, dance, and share fun activities together. We celebrate life and each other!

As darkness surrounds us, we light luminaria to remember those who have lost their battle with cancer. Paper bags are purchased and decorated and glow sticks are broken to light the night sky, symbolizing that we are the light in the midst of darkness. During the ceremony, names are read aloud of those we honor and remember, as silence and darkness accompany our walk. We remember!

As we bring the Relay For Life annual event to a close, we thank those who have fundraised and participated. We also talk about what else needs to be done to rid the world of cancer. We talk about the funds needed to support additional research in genetics, which may lead to the development of additional effective treatments.

We discuss the need for new ways to educate and prevent cancers by understanding more about how our bodies work, so we can live longer. We lobby our political representatives to support our efforts to increase affordable access to care and prevention efforts in Indiana. We commit to being part of the mission to free the world from cancer. We fight back!

We can all make a difference. Join us 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 5 live from your homes and neighborhoods, on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/FloydRelay.

Michele Hoskins is the Mission Chair of the Floyd County Relay for Life.

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