American Cancer Society - Metro NJ, Relay For Life

Basic Information

Address: 767 Northfield Ave., West Orange NJ, 07052
Phone Number: 973-736-7771
Fax Number: 973-669-5817
Director: Deirdre McGuinness

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Additional Information

Causes Served: Cancer prevention and detection, patient and caregiver support, cancer research and advocacy
Population Served: Union, Essex and Hudson Counties
Mission Statement:

American Cancer Society Mission Statement

The American Cancer Society is the nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service.

Additional Information:

What is Relay For Life? 

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in 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. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.

Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, the American Cancer Society continues to save lives.

What Happens at Relay For Life events?

Although every Relay For Life is different, there are certain traditions at all Relays, no matter where they are held. These traditions help participants celebrate, remember, and fight back.

Celebrate – The Survivors Lap
Relay starts with a Survivors Lap – a inspirational time when survivors are invited to circle the track together and help everyone celebrate the victories we’ve achieved over cancer. The Survivors Lap is an emotional example of how Relay participants are ensuring that more lives are saved each year – like those of each individual on the track. We also recognize and celebrate caregivers at Relay For Life. These individuals give their time, love, and support to friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers who face cancer. At Relay, people understand the frustrations and joys of being a caregiver, since the effects of cancer reach far beyond just the person diagnosed.

Remember – The Luminaria Ceremony
After dark, we honor people who have been touched by cancer and remember loved ones lost to the disease during the Luminaria Ceremony. Candles are lit inside bags filled with sand, each one bearing the name of a person touched by cancer, and participants often walk a lap in silence. As people take time to remember, those who have walked alongside others battling cancer can grieve and find healing. This is a time that truly highlights the importance of defeating this disease.

Fight Back – The Fight Back Ceremony
Last, there is a Fight Back Ceremony, where we make a personal commitment to save lives by taking up the fight against cancer. That personal commitment may be to do something as simple as getting a screening test, quitting smoking, or talking to elected officials about cancer. By taking action, people are personally taking steps to save lives and fight back against a disease that takes too much.

Celebrate, remember, and fight back are themes that link all Relays events together, but you can learn more about national event standards and recommendations and more about how to structure your Relay’s planning committee using a suggested three-tier approach by connecting to the documents below.

The Impact of Relay Around the World
A Presence in Communities

Relay For Life is conducted not simply to raise funds, but to involve new communities, give the Society a local presence, and provide communities the opportunity to own the mission. Because Relay provides grassroots access to the population, it is a critical means of achieving the Society’s 2015 goals.

A Celebration of Cancer Survivorship

Relay is a moving celebration of cancer survivorship. The event begins with a Survivors Lap in which cancer survivors take a victory lap around the track. A candlelight ceremony is held later in the evening to honor cancer survivors and remember those who we’ve lost to this disease. 

A Community Event

Relay For Life is a community event. Event sites should be selected based on how communities identify themselves. A town or small city may see itself as one community. Larger cities are usually made up of several different communities and neighborhoods. If people identify themselves as being part of a given community, the community qualifies as a Relay site. For example, Relays are even happening on college and corporate campuses, on military bases, and in cyberspace.

A Community-Owned / Volunteer-Driven Activity

As a community event, Relay fulfills a need for belonging that we all have. It also creates a sense of community by bringing people together in a moving and fun atmosphere, with sufficient time for cultivating relationships. The event is volunteer-driven, with Society staff coaching the volunteers. There is a true partnership between volunteers and staff.

A Means of Unifying Communities

Cancer is indiscriminate and knows no boundaries. As voluntary organizations in the United States must serve an increasingly diverse population and customer base, the way in which the American Cancer Society does business will need to shift. Our ability to communicate appropriately and utilize partners in our efforts will facilitate our growth in reaching diverse communities and ultimately in reaching the 2015 goals of the Society. Inclusion is imperative.

Relay Around the Globe

The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is an international movement to end cancer. Since 1996, the Society has partnered with multiple cancer organizations in countries outside the United States to license and support Relay For Life programs. Through Relay, these organizations bring together passionate volunteers, promote their mission-based activities, and mobilize community members to take action in the fight against cancer. Relay has proven especially important to countries at the beginning stages of educating both the public and health care communities about this deadly and often preventable disease.

International Relay For Life events are now held in communities spanning 19 countries outside of the United States.