By Courtney Clark

Thirty years ago in Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Gordon Klatt started what is known today as the Relay for Life. Back then, he was the only person involved and he raised $27,000. Thanks to him, today there are more than 5,000 events in four countries sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

One of these events is the Bartram Trail Relay for Life that was established in 2001. To raise money, teams create fundraising events such as bake sales, craft sales, spirit nights and luminaria (paper lanterns) sales. They encourage donations from friends and family. All proceeds are given to cancer research and free programs for cancer fighters and caregivers. This year, the Bartram Trail Relay for Life will be held on Saturday, April 23 at Trout Creek in St. Augustine.

Even if an attendee hasn’t signed up before the event, he or she can still participate by raising at least $100 before the event through online donations or attending spirit nights. Fundraising can continue on the day of the event, as well, by hosting a booth.

Pam Baird, the marketing chair for the event, explains that Relay for Life is ultimately to honor those fighting cancer and those who lost their battle. Starting at 11 a.m., the kickoff lap recognizes survivors and caregivers, and the final lap is a victory lap as part of the Fight Back Ceremony.

Survivors are then pampered at the Survivor Spa, where they can receive massage therapy before attending the Hollywood Mocktail Party. There will also be live music, games for adults and kids, and dinner.

Baird says of cancer that few things are as devastating and that “the courage, dignity and spirit of those fighting the disease are both inspirational and humbling.”

At sundown, the Luminaria ceremony begins. This part of the event recognizes the loved ones who have been lost to cancer and those who still fight. The luminaria bags, which are dedicated with a name, photo, message or drawing, are illuminated along the track walked by participants during the day.

Although it’s not too soon to get involved in next year’s Relay for Life, it’s also not too late to participate on April 23. Contact or call Tonia Newland at (904) 200-9629 for more information. Each Relay for Life is a success story to fight back against a devastating disease.
“You can make a difference in the fight against cancer by supporting this event,” said Baird.

Relay For Life of Bartram Trail will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016 from 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. at Trout Creek Park Pavilion and Marina, 6550 State Road 13 N, St. Augustine.

Photo courtesy Pam Baird.

Jessica Benson, Jennifer Toonk and Jamie Edwards prepare for this year’s Relay for Life.


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