Dr. Gordy Klatt, who founded Relay for life 28 years ago in Tacoma, Wash., by running around a track all night to raise funds to fight cancer, will participate in the event.
In 1985, Klatt, a Tacoma colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local society office. He decided to personally raise money for the fight against cancer by doing something he enjoyed – running. He spent 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma for more than 83 miles. Throughout the night, friends donated $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. He raised $27,000 that night to fight cancer.
That first Relay event has since grown to become the society’s signature event and the largest fundraiser in the world, bringing in about $400 million a year for the fight against cancer. Relays now take place in 5,200 communities nationwide and in 20 countries. In Georgia, 157 Relay events are scheduled in 2013.
Klatt, who is now battling stomach cancer, will also make a special appearance Saturday in Atlanta at a special program at Georgia Power’s Arkwright Auditorium. He will meet fellow Relay participants and cancer survivors and caregivers and will be interviewed in a question-and-answer session by WSB-TV.
“We are delighted and honored to have Dr. Klatt with us this Relay season in Georgia,” said Randy Redner, the society’s vice president for Georgia. “As the founder of Relay For Life, Dr. Klatt is a hero to all of us at the American Cancer Society and to cancer survivors and Relay participants and volunteers everywhere. Throughout the years, he has kept up his strong commitment to Relay and to working with the American Cancer Society to eliminate cancer. As a cancer survivor, Dr. Klatt is a true inspiration as he continues to do everything he can to raise awareness and funds for the cancer battle while at the same time, dealing with a personal diagnosis of cancer.”
The Vinings-Smyrna Relay For Life will include a survivor reception starting at 7 p.m. and catered by Longhorn. Numerous bands will be performing throughout the evening, and there will be activities for children.