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Talking It Over -- Relay a special event

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Last night, there was a very special event taking place here in Morris. The annual Relay for Life was held at Pomme de Terre Park, with hundreds of participants walking in honor or memory of a loved one or simply in an effort to help find a cure for this disease.

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Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of the American Cancer Society.

During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track at all times. These teams also collect donations for the American Cancer Society for research and other projects.

The Relay For Life began in Tacoma, Wash., as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer. In the mid-1980s, Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight 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, putting on more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 to fight cancer. That first year, nearly 300 of Klatt's friends, family, and patients watched as he ran and walked the course.

While he circled the track those 24 hours, he thought about how others could take part. He envisioned a 24-hour team relay event that could raise more money to fight cancer. Months later 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.

In 1986, 19 teams took part in the first team relay event on the track at the colorful, historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000. An indescribable spirit prevailed at the track and in the tents that dotted the infield.

Since that time the Relay for Life has virtually taken on a life of its own, spreading throughout the country and being held in over 600 communities and 19 countries. It has become a major money raising event to help in cancer research and other projects.

The Relay gives survivors the spotlight to show that there is life after diagnosis. These "Heroes of Hope" inspire other community members who have been touched by cancer. They are a testament to the progress that has been made in the fight against cancer and are changing the face of survivorship worldwide. Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Relay, whether you walked, ran, donated or watched. You helped make a difference in this fight.

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