By ASHLEY ANDERSON
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has helped extend the life of countless people worldwide, marking each new individual birthday as a victory over cancer.
This year, the national voluntary health organization will commemorate a particularly special birthday on May 22, as ACS, itself, turns 100 years old. In conjunction with the milestone, the theme of ACS fundraiser, Relay for Life of Jefferson County, will be 100 Reasons to Relay. Held May 31-June 1 at Waggener High School, the overnight event will honor those who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost and provide an opportunity to fight back against the disease. The event will also recognize ACS’ achievement, thus far, in cancer research, treatment and outreach.
“We’re really celebrating the fact of all the progress that has been made with the funds that have been raised to support the American Cancer Society’s mission over the last 100 years, but we’re not stopping,” said Stephanie Feger, communications and marketing director for ACS of Kentucky. “What we realize is as much as this is our birthday celebration, we have to finish the fight.”
Each year, Relay for Life takes place in 5,000 communities in the U.S. and more than 20 countries to support ACS’ mission of saving lives by helping people stay well, get well, find cures and fight back. New this year to Jefferson County is a high school event for Relay for Life. Butler Traditional High School will be the first to host Relay for Life of Jefferson County High Schools, taking place May 17 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The addition comes with the arrival of new community representative of Relay for Life of Jefferson County, Trish Kite-Hannon, who’s been involved with ACS since her mother’s diagnosis with breast cancer.
“I have been with the American Cancer Society for about 15 years,” Kite-Hannon said. “I have volunteered with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (Walk) when my mom was diagnosed 15 years ago, and I’ve worked with (the strides walk) as a volunteer, as a committee member, as a community promotions chair, and I’ve done Relay (for Life) for a couple of years.”
Now a staff member, Kite-Hannon’s fundraising goal for the Jefferson County Relay for Life is $160,000. She also hopes to enroll at least 65 Relay for Life teams, which vary in size from two to dozens of members. To support her mother’s battle with cancer, Kite-Hannon organized her own small family team for Relay for Life 15 years ago. “I’m very fortunate, my mom is still here, she’s a 15-year survivor,” said Kite-Hannon. “And we’ve continued to walk every year. We’ve raised quite a bit of money. We’ve probably raised about $30,000-$40,000 just a small little team, and we have a good time.”
Further solidifying her commitment to the cause, Kite-Hannon will participate in a unique opportunity with this year’s Relay for Life, the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). A landmark new long-term study, CPS-3 will help researchers better identify the lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer. Men and women ages 30 to 65 who have never been diagnosed with cancer are invited to join. “This is the second time it’s come to the Louisville area, but it’s the last time,” Feger said. “The CPS-3 is a way for someone to take a personal act in this fight by enrolling in a long-time cancer prevention study. It will take place over the next 20 to 30 years, and this year we’re hoping to finish enrollment nationwide (by) having over 300,000 men and women across the United States participate.” More information on the study can be found at cps3kyin.org.
As of March 13, ACS is currently funding 924 research grants totalling more than $462 million. In Kentucky alone, ACS is funding nine research grants totalling more than $4 million. With funds raised through local community activities, such as Relay for Life, ACS can continue its lifesaving mission.
The Relay for Life event symbolizes the cancer journey from the darkening sky surrounding the opening ceremony to the light that shines during the closing ceremony at 6:30 a.m. the following day. The Luminaria ceremony, which takes place at 10 p.m. during the evening, is an especially meaningful moment as Luminaria bags personalized with a name, photo, message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one affected by cancer illuminates the venue. “I know when I was a participant, that bag represents so much more than a paper bag,” Kite-Hannon said. “That’s your loved one there, whether it’s remembering someone or the symbolism of someone’s fight.”
Considering all ACS has achieved in the last century, there’s incredible hope for the next 100 years in cancer research and treatment. Be it a donation, volunteering with CPS-3 or signing up for the annual Relay for Life, a variety of opportunities lie within reach to take a stance against cancer and advance closer toward a cure. “All too many times you know someone who’s been touched by cancer and you just don’t know what to do to help them, you don’t know how you can make that difference,” Feger said. “And by making a donation, or making noise, getting out there and talking about cancer, you just have no idea the impact that can make.”
Relay for Life of Jefferson County will be held Friday, May 31, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at Waggener Traditional High School, 330 S. Hubbards Lane. For more information on Relay for Life of Jefferson County, visit www.relayforlife.org or call 1.800.227.2345.
Contact writer Ashley Anderson at email@example.com, 502.498.2051.
Celebrate Louisville’s Largest Birthday Party At Third Thursday
Manpower Group will present Louisville’s Largest Birthday Party at The Voice-Tribune’s Third Thursday After-Work Party, held March 21 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 60 West Bistro and Martini Bar, 3939 Shelbyville Road.
To celebrate The American Cancer Society’s annual Relay for Life, the bar will offer an array of UV Vodkas, debuting a delicious line of flavored martinis for only $5, along with small bites from the 60 West kitchen, dancing and free birthday cake!
In case you’re worried about missing the excitement of March Madness, large TVs surround the venue and will broadcast NCAA tournament games. At this month’s Third Thursday, you’ll also have a chance to win a Third Thursday VIP package for you and your entourage at the April Third Thursday.
For more information, visit www.voice-tribune.com or 502.897.8900.