BRUNSWICK — The American Cancer Society invites the entire Midcoast community — including cancer survivors, caregivers, families, schools, companies, faith-based and civic organizations — to its annual Relay For Life fundraising kickoff event Wednesday evening.

The hour-long kickoff event starts at 6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus, 2 Columbus Drive. The kickoff celebration is an opportunity for folks to register for this year’s event, which will kick off at 6 p.m. May 18 on the track at Brunswick High School.

During the overnight event, which concludes at 6 a. m. May 19, teams camp out and take turns walking or running around the school track. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events, and are life-changing for participants.

Those who attend Wednesday’s rally jump-start also can pick up their 2012 materials and learn about this year’s Relay for Life.

Few people haven’t been touched by cancer in some way, and a frightening statistic provided by the American Cancer Society indicates that one in three people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.

The money raised at Relay For Life not only saves lives by raising funds for cuttingedge cancer research, early detection and prevention education and patient services, it allows communities to celebrate the lives of those who have survived cancer and remember those who have been lost to the disease, according to an American Cancer Society release.

The theme of this year’s Relay For Life is “Community.”

Origin

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life began in Tacoma, Wash., in the mid- 1980s when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to raise money for his local American Cancer Society office. Klatt also sought a way to show support for all of his patients who had battled cancer. He decided he would raise money by doing something he enjoyed — running marathons.

In May 1985, Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He ran more than 83 miles. Nearly 300 of his friends, family and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

Throughout the night, they donated $25 to run or walk with Klatt for 30 minutes. His efforts raised $27,000 to fight cancer.

As he circled the track during those 24 hours, Klatt thought about how others could take part in his mission to fight cancer. He envisioned a 24- hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer.

During the next few months, he pulled together a small committee to plan the first team relay event, known as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

A year after Klatt’s first 24- hour run, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the historic Stadium Bowl. They raised $33,000.

The event now takes place in 5,000 communities in the United States and 19 other countries. The 24 relays held in Maine last year raised more than $ 1.6 million, enabling the American Cancer Society to affect the lives of those touched by cancer within the community by supporting cancer research, as well as providing cancer patients with services such as transportation to treatment, free lodging, and round-theclock support.

For more information about the Relay For Life of Brunswick or to RSVP for Wednesday’s kickoff event, call Donna Muto at 373-3703, or send an email to [email protected] Light refreshments will be served at the kickoff.

In case of inclement weather, the snow date is Jan. 18.

More information can be found online at www.relayforlife.org/brunswickme or at Relay for Life – Brunswick, Maine on Facebook.

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