Relay for Life logo

The annual Relay For Life event will happen in person this year, 12 noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 12 at the West Valley High School Track. The community is invited to rally together, to honor and remember loved ones, and to continue taking action to save lives.

This is a grass roots, community-based event. Funds raised here help the American Cancer Society (ACS) conduct research, provide continual support for cancer patients, along with access to lifesaving screenings.

The event honors everyone who has been affected by cancer and includes an opening ceremony, a survivor/caregiver walk, a luminary ceremony and a closing ceremony.

Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward will start the celebration as the featured cancer survivor guest speaker. He will take the first lap of the relay and then be joined by many others. To date, 82 participants have joined 19 teams for this event. They all raised funds for this important cause.

As part of the event this year, a silent auction is also planned, along with cake walks throughout the day. 

The luminaria lighting is a special ceremony that provides homemade paper lanterns, decorated with names of loved ones. Each luminaria is in honor or remembrance of a life touched by cancer, accompanied by a moment of silence for those who were lost.

Covid mitigation protocols will be in place throughout the event. Masks will be required of all participants/attendees while in the event area. Organizers ask everyone to be respectful of immune-compromised survivors and observe safe social distancing.

Cancer has been the leading cause of death for Alaskans since 1993.

The American Cancer Society recognizes that Alaskans face unique challenges, including geographical barriers to medical care, and the American Cancer Society provides ways to help patients receive treatment. The ACS offers practical, emotional and interpersonal support.

Services are available free of charge to all Alaskan cancer patients and their families, regardless of circumstance. Seventy percent of the patients served are low-income, under-insured and fighting for their lives.

Attendees must be registered to participate in the Relay For Life. Registration is free. For more information, go to or This is an opportunity to connect with survivors, caregivers and others effected by cancer. 

Join an existing team or start a new team. And if you can’t participate in person, consider donating to this important cause.

Relay For Life was founded by Dr. Gordy Klatt of Tacoma, Wash. in 1985 and continues nationwide. It began as a 24-hour fundraising walk.

“Fundraising through Relay For Life is more important than ever and we can’t allow progress to be put on hold because of the pandemic,” said Annette Vrolyk, senior development manager with the American Cancer Society in Alaska. “Cancer won’t stop and neither can we.”

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.