Relay for Life Cancer Fundraiser Facts

How to get involved in the relay for life cancer fundraiser

Before signing up for the event, would-be participants often ask, "What is Relay for Life, and what's the registration fee?" The relay is an American Cancer Society-sponsored event that raises money and awareness for cancer across a 24-hour period. Events ranging from 6 to 24 hours long take place in cities and small towns worldwide.

Actresses Nancy Lee Grahn and Lisa LoCicero attend the Relay For Life Hollywood and pose for a picture outside with a banner and participants
James Lemke Jr. / WireImage / Getty Images

The event lasts an entire day to recognize that when someone has cancer, it does not stop; the disease is present around the clock. To participate for 24-hour events, teams of participants camp overnight at local athletic tracks, taking turns running or walking laps. 

How Do I Participate in Relay for Life?

First, you must find a Relay for Life event in your area that you would like to participate in. You can join a team that is already established or you can create your own. Each participant must pay a $10 registration fee either online or through the local American Cancer Society (ACS) chapter.
Each team is led by a team captain who serves as a manager for the team. He or she recruits team members and facilitates fundraisers for the event. Anyone on the team can serve as the team captain. The team leader is not a representative of the American Cancer Society.

What Is the Registration Fee for Relay for Life?

Unlike many other nationally recognized cancer fundraisers, the cost to participate is minimal. The American Cancer Society asks that each participant make a goal to raise at least $100, but it is not required.

You can participate in the event for a $10 registration fee if you cannot raise any funds.

Where and When Is Relay for Life Held?

Relay for Life is an international event that takes place in many different locations on various dates. Most events occur in the summer months, but they can take place year-round.

Events usually take place at colleges, high schools, fairgrounds, and also on military installations.

What Makes Relay for Life Different From Other Cancer Walks?

All cancer walks and runs are excellent ways to raise money and awareness, but Relay for Life embraces all types of cancer, not just one type.

Proceeds from the thousands of Relay for Life events help further cancer research and other ACS-sponsored programs. The relay is also a great fundraiser for those who cannot walk or run several miles. Relay for Life only requires that one person from each team be on the track at all times. This allows team members to take breaks. However, team members should be able to walk for 30 minutes at a time. People who rely on wheelchairs may also "walk" laps in most events. In short, Relay for Life is a very inclusive fundraiser that seeks both financial and community support.

Luminarias are also a signature addition to Relay for Life events. Special bags that contain a white candle line the track, creating a lighted pathway for walkers. You can honor a loved one who has died of cancer by sponsoring a luminary at these events. Luminary donations are usually as little as $5. All events have a luminary ceremony, where the candles are lit and those who lost their battle to cancer are memorialized.

2 Sources
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  1. American Cancer Society. Relay For Life.

  2. American Cancer Society. Relay for Life team member guide.

By Lisa Fayed
Lisa Fayed is a freelance medical writer, cancer educator and patient advocate.