Relay For Life
What is “Relay For Life”?
"Relay For Life" is the name of the "signature" fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, WA, surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent 24 hours circling the track at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles., friends and organizations came out to support him, putting up booths, selling food and crafts throughout the night, and donating proceeds to the ACS. The Relay For Life was born, raising $27,000 to fight cancer. Now thousands of Relays are held all over the world each year to raise money for the ACS.
The CYO & Catholic Youth Relay For Life
The CYO & Catholic Youth Relay For Life was born in 1999 out of the desire of CYO Directors and Youth Ministers to have more "Big Church" events, where the members of their youth groups could come together, socialize, have fun and build community at events that were not competitions or structured conferences. One youth minister familiar with ACS Relay For Life events proposed the idea of doing a youth-based Relay For Life as our very first event. In July 1999, less than two months later, we held our very first CYO Relay at St. Catherine of Siena. Our first event had 375 attendees who raised $7,500 for ACS (to the surprise of the ACS, who we had forgotten to contact!). Since then, the CYO Relay For Life has been hosted by seven different parishes or schools, has welcomed over 4,000 attendees, and has donated over $160,000 to the American Cancer Society.
What Happens at “Relay For Life"?
The CYO Relay For Life is held at different host sites each year, and occurs from 9:00pm until 6:00am, with set-up preparations beginning at 6:00pm the day of the event. Relay is structured as an all-night parish/school fair for CYO members, typically held within a parish or school parking lot or playground. We outline a walking 'track' on which someone from each participating youth group, or “team,” must be walking at all times. The track is surrounded by "campsites," the bases of operation for each attending youth group, where each group will set up a tent or booth for selling food, providing services (a jail, dunking booth, face painting) or offering some kind of game.
Campsites are decorated with a theme, chosen by the group, which may conform to the year's national ACS them, our CYO relay theme, or just be a creative expression of the group. As with any Relay race, where walkers or racers pass on a baton from one person to another, teams also have 'spirit sticks' which are creatively decorated batons that are carried on the track at all times.
Our event also serves as a Celebration of those who have survived their battle with cancer, as well as a Memorial to those who have not. Cancer Survivors are invited to attend, to enjoy a catered reception especially for them, to open the event for us by making the first lap, and to participate in the fun of Relay by judging some of our contests. Those who have lost their battle with cancer are memorialized with candle-lit “luminary” bags, which are decorated with their names and which line, and light, the entire walking track throughout the night.
Throughout the night at every Relay For Life there are other activities that attendees can participate in. Entertainment is provided all night by DJs and live local bands, the “Relay Olympics” which are competitive goofy games interspersed throughout the night, theme times where walkers must conform to walk the track (50's clothes, superhero items, beach wear, etc.), a "No Talent" Talent Show open to all, and an outdoor Midnight Mass which everyone attends. Contests are held for Best Decorated Campsite, Best Decorated Baton, Best Dessert, and Most Spirited Group or Person. Prizes and engraved trophies are awarded for each contest at the end of the night.
Who Can Attend Relay For Life?
Relay For Life is open to any youth of the Archdiocese of New Orleans who are registered members of any recognized Diocesan youth group, or who are students at any Diocese-affiliated high school. Participants must be accompanied by adult chaperones who are affiliated with the parish, group or school represented or sponsored by the attending youth. Youth attendees must be covered by Archdiocesan or parish insurance.
Registration for Relay For Life is $10 for both youth and adult participants. All registrations are accepted by the Wednesday before the event only.
Cancer Survivors are welcomed and encouraged to attend as well. A catered Reception is held for them from 8:00pm – 10:00pm. They are invited to stay through the evening. There is no cost for them to attend Relay For Life.
- The American Cancer Society: www.cancer.org
- Clarion Herald covers Relay For Life 2009: http://www.clarionherald.org/pdfs/2009/07_25_09/header/page15.pdf
Previous Relay Host Sites:
- 1999 – 2001: Catherine of Siena
- 2002: St. Benilde
- 2003: St. Matthew the Apostle
- 2004: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
- 2005: St. Mary Magdalen
- 2007: St. Clement of Rome
- 2008: St. Benilde
- 2009: Brother Martin High School
- 2010: St. Christopher the Martyr
- 2011: St. Christopher the Martyr
- 2012: St. Clement of Rome
Past Relay Participants
- Holy Family Luling
- Our Lady of Divine Providence
- Our Lady of Lourdes
- Our Lady of the Lake
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Belle Chasse)
- Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Metairie)
- Prince of Peace
- Sacred Heart (Norco)
- St. Andrew the Apostle
- St. Ann
- St. Benilde
- St. Bonaventure
- St. Catherine of Siena
- St. Christopher
- St. Clement of Rome
- St. Cletus
- St. Dominic
- St. Edward the Confessor
- St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
- St. Frances Cabrini
- St. Francis Xavier
- St. Gabriel
- St. Jerome
- St. Joan of Arc (LaPlace)
- St. John of the Cross
- St. Louis King of France
- St. Louise de Marillac
- St. Martha
- St. Mary Magdalen
- St. Matthew the Apostle
- St. Matthew of Portland, Oregon
- St. Philip Neri
- St. Rita (Harahan)
- Uptown Youth Ministry