From the first lap I took around the track at my first Relay For Life event 9 years ago, I was hooked. I knew that I was making a difference in the fight against cancer - and getting a chance to help save lives alongside all of my friends made it that much better. Each year after that first event, more of my friends participated in the event, my team took over several camp sites, my Relay family grew larger, and my classmates stopped complaining (well, complained less) about raising money. It became a tradition that defined our lives throughout high school. When we all went away to different colleges, we continued participating in Relay For Life and slowly started building new teams and growing our new Relay families. 

We all graduated from college last Spring and began moving to different states and new communities, starting full time jobs and beginning the next chapter of our lives. Everything was changing. But our passion for fighting back against cancer - in whatever way, shape, or form that might take - was stronger than ever. 

While we may not be running around campus selling cheap t-shirts, organizing 5k's, hosting an all-you-can-eat pancake dinner, or getting our head basketball coach to donate for every free throw he missed, we were each able to find our next big way to fight back with the American Cancer Society in our new communities. For some of us, that is a Young Professional group, for others it is a community Relay For Life event, and even more plan to chaperone for our former high school event and go back to be an alumni team captain at their alma mater.

It isn't about all of us participating in the same event, at the same location, and at the same time. It's about finding our own ways to fight back against cancer with the American Cancer Society. Each of us has our own connection to cancer and our own reason to Relay. No matter where we go or what we do, we know that we are saving lives and spreading hope all thanks to the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life.

- Kyle Polke, American Cancer Society Volunteer

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