At least 20 Iowa communities will host walk-runs over the next few weeks to benefit the American Cancer Society. The Relay for Life events are now in their 25th year. Cheryl Sherry, spokeswoman for the Fort Dodge chapter, says the first "relay" was held in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington, as an individual surgeon chose to run on a track for 24 hours straight to raise money for the organization.
Sherry says Relay has grown every year since, becoming an international event and the cornerstone of the American Cancer Society’s fundraising efforts. In the first relay, the doctor took donations from his friends and raised 27-thousand dollars. The goals now are in the multi-millions. Sherry says participants in the events in Iowa make it a very personal effort.
"The thing that people really think about when they come to Relay is, they’re fighting cancer and they’re honoring people who are survivors and we remember people that we’ve lost to cancer," Sherry says. "We want to fight back and this gives us a way." She says there are a couple of key elements in the Relay to remember friends and family each year.
There’s a Survivor Lap, another to honor family members and friends who are caregivers, and she says there’s another lap to single out the medical staffs who so lovingly help cancer patients in their fight.
Relays are being held all over Iowa over the coming weeks, including in: Des Moines, Chariton, Marshalltown, Webster City, Guthrie Center, Clarion, Fort Dodge, Grinnell, Oskaloosa, Hampton, Forest City, Carroll, Maquoketa, Letts, West Burlington, Dyersville, Atlantic, Keokuk, Waverly and Denison. For the one nearest you go to www.relayforlife.org .