For several years, Lake Nona has hosted American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life (RLF). This event is taking place on Saturday, April 9, starting at 2 PM and goes on until Sunday, April 10, at 8 AM at Lake Nona High School.
Relay For Life is the world’s largest fundraising event to end cancer, uniting communities across the globe to finish the fight. The money raised supports education and prevention efforts, funds groundbreaking cancer research and provides free information and services for cancer patients.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Mancini, the Chairwoman for Lake Nona’s Relay for Life, and a cancer survivor herself.
What is Relay For Life?
In May 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Wash., ultimately raising $27,000 to help the American Cancer Society fight the nation’s biggest health concern: cancer. A year later, 340 supporters joined the overnight event. Since those first steps, the RFL movement has grown into a worldwide phenomenon.
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in select communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease.
Why do we relay?
Relay For Life — less a race and more a block-party-style event — annually brings together people of all ages and serves the Lake Nona, Vista Lakes, Boggy Creek and Wyndham Lakes communities. Relay For Life is an organized community walk where teams of people come together and camp out around the track, taking turns walking around the track to show their support for those touched by cancer. Survivors and caregivers are our important guests and are celebrated with an Opening Lap and Special Luncheon. After dusk, there is a very memorable Luminaria Ceremony where luminaria line the track in honor or in memory of friends and loved ones who have fought cancer. Despite the seriousness of the cause — raising money for the American Cancer Society — Relay For Life is an upbeat, carnival-like affair that offers something for everyone. At the Lake Nona event, you will find food, games, kid’s carnival, Healthy Lifestyle Showcase, Relay’s Got Talent, bands, and a variety of local talent on display providing entertainment and camaraderie for the entire community! With your help, we aren’t just fighting one type of cancer – we’re fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community across the world.
The Luminaria Ceremony Lisa mentions may be the most emotional part of this event. During the day, you purchase a luminaria (paper lantern) for a donation to ACS. You can decorate and dedicate your luminaria in honor or memory of a loved one. At night, they line the track with all the paper lanterns. It is quite a sight to see. It represents a whole community of people coming together for one cause that unfortunately affects more people than we would like to admit.
Who, if anyone, is the honoree?
The honorees at Relay For Life are our survivors. A survivor is anyone who has ever heard the words, “You have cancer.” We invite all cancer survivors in the community to attend Relay For Life because they are the reason we relay. We invite survivors to register on our website (free of charge) or come early at 1:15 PM to register as a survivor. There will be a Survivor Ceremony Special Lap (we have a golf cart to ride people unable to walk) and a luncheon in their honor where you may bring one guest!
There were over 60 survivors who attended Lake Nona’s Relay For Life event last year! We know there are many, many more and would love to have them join us this year.
Why have you chosen Lake Nona to host this event?
There are over 22 volunteer-driven Relay For Life events in the Greater Orlando Central Florida area. The Lake Nona community has grown and flourished over the past several years, and the American Cancer Society has recognized this growth and given Lake Nona a relay to build and make unique to our community’s needs. This is an important year for us – it is Lake Nona’s opportunity to champion those of all ages within our community. For that, we need YOU!
How may the community get involved?
We invite everyone to stop by any time during our 18-hour relay to show your community support. There will be food, fun, and games for the entire family! Without your support, whether volunteering, through sponsorship, forming or joining a team, or as a resident dropping by to have a fun-filled afternoon, WE NEED YOU! Please contact RFLofLakeNona@yahoo.com.
How can you create a team?
We are always looking for individuals, families, schools, churches, organizations and businesses to join us around the track as a team. Forming a team is easy and a fun way to help support our cause and YOUR community! And you have the event’s Leadership Team to assist you in any way to ensure you have a successful team! We’re always here to help! Equally important is involvement from the many neighborhoods within the Lake Nona area.
How can people volunteer?
We have opportunities with a variety of time commitments including some on just the day of event. Email us for information at RFLofLakeNona@yahoo.com.
It’s like American Idol but RELAY STYLE and there are 3 GREAT PRIZES with the top one being 4 hours in a professional recording studio!!!!
Can anyone sponsor the event?
Yes! We have multiple levels of sponsorship to choose from, and your business is recognized locally on our website and the day of our event. We can e-mail sponsorship information or come by, so please reach out and team up with us for a cure!
How can I participate if I can’t make it on event day?
Go to our website to select a team to donate to or for a small donation, ask to have a luminaria created online or come to our Luminaria Tent the day of the relay and have a luminaria made “in honor of” or “in memory of” someone touched by cancer!
Where do donations go?
The American Cancer Society helps to fund research and provides programs and services to help people with cancer and their loved ones understand cancer, manage their lives through treatment and recovery, and find the emotional support they need.
Can you share cancer statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS)?
Today, two out of three people diagnosed with cancer are surviving for at least five years and the goal is to change that to three out of three. The ACS has contributed to a 20 percent decline in cancer death rates in the U.S. since the early 1990s, meaning that nearly 1.2 million lives were saved during that time.
Each year, the ACS helps cancer patients everywhere get the help they need when they need it. For example, last year alone we assisted more than a million people who called the society’s toll-free number for help, providing free services like a place to stay while traveling for treatment, rides to treatment, emotional support, and much more.
Also, the society’s work has helped lead to a 50 percent drop in smoking since the 1960s, which has contributed to a drop in overall lung cancer death rates.