Press Releases

May 15, 2009
Milestone Relay season begins as world’s largest fundraising special event celebrates quarter century of hope

ATLANTA 2009/05/15 -A year-long celebration marking the 25th season for the world's largest grassroots fundraising activity, the American Cancer Society Relay For Life, is underway. The month of May marks the beginning of the 25th “birthday” year of Relay, the Society’s signature fundraising initiative, and 5,000 communities in the United States and 20 other countries will be celebrating and participating in Relay For Life events through the end of August.

Relay For Life started in 1985, when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., circled a track for 24-hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. The program has grown from one man’s passion into the world’s largest non-profit fundraising special event and community movement to end cancer, with one in every 100 Americans participating.

Today, more than 3.5 million people worldwide take part in Relay For Life each year, to celebrate those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. Because of those millions of dedicated Relayers, the American Cancer Society is saving lives and helping people celebrate more birthdays.

The funds raised by Relay For Life have played a role in nearly every major cancer research breakthrough in the last 25 years, leading to groundbreaking discoveries into cancer’s causes and cures. As well, Relay has contributed substantially to the American Cancer Society’s funding of crucial prevention and early detection services; numerous, life-enhancing patient support programs; and advocacy initiatives that encourage lawmakers to do their part to defeat cancer, while rallying communities to join the fight.

To participate in Relay’s 25th birthday year celebration and join the movement, consumers can visit, where they will find more information on:


  • Joining or starting a team to raise money,
  • Volunteering at an event in their community, and/or
  • Making a donation to Relayers they know.

The American Cancer Society saves lives by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures and by fighting back. Relay For Life rallies communities and helps the American Cancer Society work toward its goal of a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

Jamie Kimbrough
Director, Media Relations
American Cancer Society