At Relay for Life, survivors and families rally around the hope that all cancers will be cured.

By Gwen Rollings

The American Cancer Society (ACS) saw its Relay For Life events go unfulfilled this year, as COVID-19 forced the suspension of Relay For Life of FishHawk, Riverview, SouthShore, Sun City Center and Bloomingdale. While all teams and ACS were disappointed the events didn’t occur, the communities continued to amaze through their support to the mission.

The Relay For Life of Southeastern Hillsborough County area raised $191,151 for the 2020 season, which actually started in late 2019. The 2020 fundraising totals were: FishHawk – $84,219; Bloomingdale – $30,418; Riverview – $36,112; SouthShore – $31,389 and Sun City Center – $9,013.

Relay events for the 2021 event season will transition from tradition and rely more heavily on virtual platforms, volunteer efforts and community connections. Reach out to Tammy Schoonover at

Original story printed March 2020.

Do you ever wonder if only one person can make any difference in the fight against cancer? In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a Tacoma, Washington surgeon, ran more than 83 miles around the University of Puget Sound track for 24 hours and raised $27,000 for his local American Cancer Society. In the following year, 220 people of 19 teams joined him, and a worldwide phenomenon was born.

In 1994, Relay for Life became the American Cancer Society’s signature event.

Fast forward over 30 years and now the Relay for Life movement raises more than $400 million each year, and more than 5,000 Relay for Life events take place in over 20 countries. This is a monumental accomplishment, but it still begins with one person, one team, one community for one purpose: to attack and defeat cancer.

According to Tammy Schoonover, senior community development manager in Tampa, “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.”

Relay events take place in cities and small towns worldwide usually in this order: pre-fundraising, meeting with your team, opening ceremony, survivor and caregiver laps, time to celebrate, lighting the luminaries and then the closing ceremony.

You can register and connect with a local team through

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