One person can make a difference

Image: Dr. Gordy Klatt

Dr. Gordy Klatt (

Can one person make a difference? According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) it is estimated that 1,660,290 people in the United States will be diagnosed with some type of cancer this year. That number breaks down to 854,790 men and 805,500 women. This estimate does not include basal and squamous cell skin and non-invasive carcinomas, with the exception of urinary bladder cancer. Based on rates from 2008 to 2010, nearly 41 percent of men and women born today will be diagnosed with cancer at some time during their lifetime.

Research suggests that one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention. Mammograms help find breast cancer at early, often highly treatable stages. Other prevention tips include not using tobacco products, limiting alcohol use, avoiding excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.

We need a cure for cancer. Can one person make a difference? Yes they can. That is very evident in the story of Dr. Gordy Klatt and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event that started in Tacoma, Washington.

In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. Friends, family, and patients watched and supported him as he ran and walked more than 83.6 miles and raised $27,000 through pledges for the fight against cancer. As he circled the track, he thought of how he could get others to take part. He envisioned having teams participate in a 24-hour event to raise money to fight cancer. In 1986, 19 teams were part of the first relay event at the historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000.

His vision has grown into a nationwide event raising nearly $5 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer. In addition, the American Cancer Society licenses 20 non-governmental cancer organizations in other countries to hold Relay For Life events to battle cancer across the globe. Dr. Klatt passed away on August 3, 2014.

In more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries, Relay For Life events comprise the signature fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Each Relay For Life event is special to its community, but the movement’s true power lies in the combined commitment of thousands of participants, volunteers, and supporters to help the American Cancer Society save lives from cancer.

Every year, the Relay For Life movement raises more than $400 million. The American Cancer Society puts these donations to work, investing in groundbreaking research in every type of cancer and providing free information and services to cancer patients and their caregivers. They fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer, in every community throughout the country.

Relay For Life offers the unique opportunity for cancer survivors and caregivers to be recognized and supported. Each event hosts special events and activities, many throughout the year, so survivors and their caregivers can connect and know there is a strong support system available to them.

In 2010, thirty-one Hope Lodges across the U.S. provided 220,000 nights of free lodging to nearly 50,000 patients and caregivers. We have spent more than $3.5 billion on cancer research since 1948 and have played a role in nearly every cancer breakthrough in recent history.

The Relay For Life of Central Ellis County will be held at the Waxahachie Sports Complex on May 30, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to midnight. So far there are 23 teams signed up with 114 participants. Fundraising events have already begun and $10,127.50 has been raised so far.

You can be that one person that makes a difference – that one person that helps raise the funds that will find a cure for cancer. Anyone desiring to sponsor the event or volunteer to help should contact Donna Daniell at 469-337-0438 or Jessica Gentry at 214-949-9918. To register a team, contact Brandi Shelley at 972-921-4341. To sign up as a survivor or caregiver, contact JoAnn Smith at 972-754-8663.