Walking a mile in gym class can seem daunting on a rough morning, but walking 26 miles through the night around a track? I don’t think so! Or so I thought at first anyway. The Relay for Life is a huge undertaking but can be extremely rewarding. The good news is, you don’t actually have to walk all 26 miles, and you can stop to sleep for as long as you want, but more on that later. Let’s start with the big picture: what even is Relay for Life? In one sentence, this walk is organized by the American Cancer Society and claims the title of the world’s largest fund raiser. It generates the highest percentage of the Society’s funds, and unites people across the world. Walks are organized at the local level with just over 100 participants, but are also held at college campuses like MIT, University of Miami, and Stanford, along with huge cities including New York City, Washington D.C., and other sites around the globe. The first Relay for Life was held Tacoma in 1980, making the fundraiser older than any student at HHS! Since the very first event where just one man walked a high school track with friends who donated money to participate, Relay for Life has grown immensely. Every year, over 4 million people participate in 20 different countries!
So, how exactly does Relay for Life go? Well, the emphasis is on the relay. People form teams that fund raise as a group, with all profits going to benefit the American Cancer Society. The walks can last for up to 24 hours, but each individual team member can walk as much or as little as they would like as long as one person on the team is walking at all times. Now, you might think walking a track 104 times might get a little repetitive, but this isn’t the case; every few miles of the course is different in some way. The walk kicks off with a survivors’ lap, a time for past cancer patients to walk the track together and lead the battle against this terrible disease. After dark, a luminary ceremony is held with candles in paper bags around the track. Each candle represents a life lost to cancer. Finally, the fight back ceremony involves personal pledges to fight back against cancer, not to mention doughnuts at 2 a.m., balloon animals, and glow sticks with blasting music!
I can’t wait for this year’s Relay for Life which will be held on Friday, June 19 through Saturday, June 20 at Pembroke High School. The walk is a local way to make a big difference, and requires just a fraction of the strength that cancer patients must constantly show. If you are interested in participating in this year’s walk, talk to Mr. Centorino or Mr. Hegarty, who have helped to coordinate the Hanover High School team.
For more information about the walk itself, visit:
To donate to the Pembroke walk, visit: