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Help sought for Relay for Life
People needed to fill leadership roles
relay for life file 2019
Shown is a scene from the 2019 Barton County Relay for Life. - photo by Susan Thacker

Wanted: Someone with hope to fight cancer. No experience needed.

If Kim Peach were to publish a classified ad seeking someone to lead the 2020 Barton County Relay for Life, that is what it would say. Peach is the La Crosse-based community manager covering American Cancer Society relays in central and western Kansas.

“We want someone who is passionate about finding a cure for cancer and who knows the Barton County area and people and could be an ambassador to connect Relay to the Community,” she said. They don’t have to know everything, just be willing to learn and involved.

“We have a really good committee,” she said. “We just need someone who is connected.”

She is looking for a volunteer to serve as the “event lead.” This is basically the chairperson who oversees the overall relay committee.

“They don’t do everything,” Peach said. They set meeting dates, lead the meetings and help establish the agendas.

There is some urgency to fill the post. There is an ACS Summit at Goddard High School set for Sept. 21, which is part training and part pep rally for relay volunteers.

“We want the event lead to be a part of that,” Peach said. “We want somebody to go and get pumped up about ACS and Relay for Life.”

No date or definite location has been set for the 2020 Barton County relay. Peach said they want the new event lead to be in on that process, which will start later this summer or early in the fall.

Since the first Barton County relay 25 years ago, it has been a staple for the community every spring. However, the luster has faded some over the years.

But, Barton County is not alone, Peach said.

“There is a trend of volunteers dropping off,” she said. “We live in a world where people want to step in and step out” of volunteer commitments.

Now, Peach and local relay organizers want to breathe some new life into it. 

“We still want to honor those we’ve lost to cancer, recognize the survivors and thank the caregivers,” she said. “We’re trying to stick with that celebration theme.”

Originally, the relay was a 12-hour event, starting on a Friday night and concluding on a Saturday morning. The idea was to symbolize the treatment journey of cancer patients.

However, some relays, including the one locally, had gotten away from the overnight idea to get more teams involved and stay until the end.

Since 1985, the ACS’s Relay for Life has grown from one man – colorectal surgeon Dr. Gordy Klatt, who walked, jogged, and ran around a track in Tacoma, Wash., for 24 hours raising money for his local ACS unit. The following year, 340 supporters joined Klatt (who died in 2014 of heart failure) and Relay for Life was born. 

Relays are now the ACS’s major fundraiser and take place in 5,000 communities in the United States. And, each year, more than 4 million people in 26 countries take part. 

But, “it’s about more than raising money,” Peach said. “It is a chance for people to come together and share hope.”

The American Cancer Society was founded in 1913 in New York City as the American Society for the Control of Cancer. In 1945, the ASCC was reorganized as the American Cancer Society, and the modern era of research was started.

Barton County falls in the ACS’s North Division, which covers Kansas and nine other Midwestern and Northwestern states.