Over the past 27 years, local groups have raised millions of dollars for the American Cancer Society. And this year, they hope to do it again.
Last year, Relay For Life of Grays Harbor, East Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay raised a collective total of $424,165, earning them the Health Care Champion Volunteer award.
The Grays Harbor event, hosted at Hoquiam High School, gathered $334,630 and the East Grays Harbor event, hosted at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds, raised $53,082. The Willapa Bay event at Raymond High School collected $36,451.
Relay For Life has long been a tradition in local communities — with the Grays Harbor Relay being one of the country’s original Relay events. The first Relay For Life took place in Tacoma when Dr. Gordy Klatt spent 24 hours walking the University of Puget Sound track in 1985. Two years later, Hoquiam became the second city to ever host a Relay For Life event.
The event has raised so much money that it’s classified as a “mega event.”
“Grays Harbor Relay For Life is like no other. Since we started doing Relay, little-old Grays Harbor has raised more than $5 million for the American Cancer Society,” said Grays Harbor Relay Chairwoman Glennis Stamon.
Last year, event planners decided to completely split the East Grays Harbor Relay from the Grays Harbor Relay. In recent years, the two events had been held on the same weekend in two different locations. But in 2013, organizers decided that the East Grays Harbor event had gained enough traction to be held on a different day than its parent event.
Relay participants were also able to sign up for an American Cancer Society study, recruiting men and women between the ages of 30 and 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer. Participants in all three relay events gathered at the Grays Harbor Relay to sign up.
The goal of the study is to track people from various racial and ethnic backgrounds in the hopes of discovering lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that cause and prevent cancer. For more information about the study, visit www.cancer.org/cps3.
This year, the different Relay groups hope to shatter last year’s fundraising totals. Organizers of the Grays Harbor event hope to raise $350,000, organizers of the East Grays Harbor event hope to raise $66,000 and organizers of the Willapa Bay event hope to raise $45,000.
Planning for this year’s events has already started, and the dates for the different Relays have been set.
The Grays Harbor Relay takes place May 30, the East Grays Harbor event will take place June 13 and the Willapa Bay Relay will take place July 19.
To find out how you can help, contact Brittany Akers of the American Cancer Society at firstname.lastname@example.org.