2018 Relay for Life season steps out today with gusto


Relay for Life, the mother of all community fundraisers in the nation, gets back on track in the Mahoning Valley today for the start of what promises to be another rewarding and successful season.

As many well know, the colossal Relay for Life movement serves as the principal fundraising arm – and legs – of the American Cancer Society. In a united show of camaraderie, commitment and compassion, Relay participants run, walk, dash and dart toward the common finish line of taming the cancer beast.

In Relay’s three-decade history, the ACS estimates it has raised more than $5 billion that has helped to improve cancer survival, decrease the incidence of the disease and improve the quality of life for cancer survivors and their caretakers.

Historically, community relays throughout the Mahoning and Shenango valleys have produced jaw-dropping results toward achieving those solid accomplishments. Relays in Warren and Boardman, for example, typically rank among the most successful in the international program. Nationwide, approximately 3.2 million cancer fighters take part in 5,200 community relays each year.

It is the indomitable spirit of cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and donors that helps to raise more than $1 million annually in our region alone. The bulk of those dollars stays in the community to support patients and caregivers.

Toward maintaining our region’s reputation as a leader in the Relay movement and toward providing maximum assistance to the good works of ACS, we encourage broad participation and generous support at the 2018 events that begin at noon today at Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center and continue over the next two months in communities large and small throughout Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio and Mercer and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania.

The need for a robust army of foot soldiers in the fight against the killer of 600,000 Americans annually remains painfully compelling. Close to home, for example, various forms of the disease continue to cut short the lives of 1,500 residents of the Mahoning Valley each year, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s “Cancer in Ohio” report. That report also shows that even though cancer rates in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties have stabilized in recent years, they have not fallen nearly as quickly as in many other counties.

HOPEFUL SIGNS

Despite such discouraging data, hope cannot be lost. Thanks in part to the efforts of Relay generosity, survival from cancer continues to increase – 70 percent today compared with 50 percent three decades ago when Relay for Life started. Moreover, ACS estimates resources from Relays have helped to save the lives of more than 1.3 million Americans since 1991.

Such optimistic reports provide added momentum for participants working out and shaping up for this spring’s events. Relay organizers should work even harder this year to mobilize even larger numbers of participants and pledges.

In so doing, they’ll also contribute concretely to the national Moonshot initiative, created by former Vice President Joe Biden two years ago to find a cure for cancer within five years. This year, the initiative, part of the National Cancer Institute, has activated implementation teams and many grant opportunities.

With so much happening on the front lines of fighting cancer, the Relay for Life movement can ill afford to lose steam. Details on joining, supporting or donating to any of the events in our region can be found on the American Cancer Society’s website [cancer.org]. Mark your calendars now for one or more of these Relay for Life events nearby:

Today: YSU, noon at Beeghly Center.

April 27: Niles, 6 p.m., Mayor Infante Wellne ss Center.

May 11: Warren, 6 p.m., Courthouse Square, downtown Warren.

May 12: New Castle, Pa., 10 a..m., Cascade Park.

May 18: Boardman, 6 p.m., Boardman Center Intermediate School stadium.

June 1: Columbiana County, 6 p.m., East Liverpool High School.

June 2 : Austintown Elementary School, 10 a.m.

June 8: Joint Liberty-McDonald Relay, 6 p.m., Woodland Park, McDonald.

June 23: Poland, 11 a.m., Poland Seminary High School.

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