Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society.

Relay for TeamCredit: jmwildingRelay is usually an over-night event held in communities around the world to raise money for cancer research and other programs provided by the American Cancer Society.  It also helps raise community awareness of cancer and helps educate people on cancer prevention and early detection.  Another very important aspect of a Relay for Life event is to honor and those survivors who are battling and even won against cancer and remember loved ones who have lost their battle with cancer. 


Putting together your team

Typically the ideal Relay for Life team will consist of 8 to 15 members.  Team members can be anyone.  People who participate in Relay do not have to have cancer.  There are no restrictions!  Ideally you will have team members who will participate and raise money, as that is the focus of a team.

Members on your team should be:

  • People you get along well with
  • People you can count on
  • People who love to have fun
  • People who are committed and see your vision for the Relay for Life event

Invite your family, friends, and co-workers to participate with you.

Once you have your team in place and have your members it’s important realize that everyone brings a different asset to your team as a whole.  One person might be a financial wizard and can help with the accounting and the next member might be an artist and can make great posters for your tent site.  Get to know your team members well, find their talents and use them! 

Be organized

Time is valuable to all of us as we all lead busy lives apart from participating in Relay.  If you plan a meeting, get-together, or fundraiser make sure you have a written agenda so that you don’t waste time trying to remember what you wanted to accomplish. 

Have all members of the team fill out an information sheet immediately with address, contact numbers, and email.  This way you can keep in touch easily.  Include shirt sizes if you plan on buying team shirts and for ordering the event t-shirts.

Plan to have meetings regularly.  This keeps everyone on top of what is happening, what is expected, and the excitement going.

Appoint a “numbers person” to track your funds immediately!  This eliminates a lot of problems from the get-go!


Brainstorming is the best way to utilize your resources within your team.  Have brainstorming sessions to name your team, develop fundraising ideas, finding sponsors, plan costumes and activities for the night of Relay.  Be prepared to discuss everyone’s ideas.  Don’t ever just toss out an idea just because it doesn’t sound great at the first.  Maybe you can build on it.  Besides, you have many different personalities that need to be blended into a cohesive group to attain your goals.  Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m sorry,” but on the other hand, develop a thick skin! 

Keep it FUN!

You are doing this for a very serious reason, but gosh, you don’t have to be dark and dreary about it!  Combine meetings with lunch or dinner or other fun activities.  Everyone should enjoy this experience and then they will want to participate year after year.  People need to laugh and have fun, so keep this experience light-heartened.  (Tears, however, are allowed during the lighting of the luminaries!)

Having fun at Relay for LifeCredit: jmwilding

Set Goals

Decide what you want to accomplish with your team.  If you want to win the “coveted” Heart of Relay award - then you better plan to fight for it!  Why settle for anything less? 

Set reasonable goals for your fundraising.  Not every person can find a $1000 sponsor, but you can probably accomplish it as a group!  Decide if you want to share your fundraising efforts as a team, or as individual members, as there are incentive awards given for both. 

Plan to have rewards for reaching goals that have been set.  Do this on an individual and a team basis.  Plan a simple potluck barbeque to celebrate when you reach a certain milestone as a group.  Give a small gift to those who meet their individual goals or write a note and just say thanks!

Go the Extra Mile

Why are you doing this?  Participating in Relay for Life is hard work.  If you are doing it, give 110% to this effort.  Don’t procrastinate until the week before Relay to decide on your outfits, tent decorations, etc. 

Get involved and support the main committee by being prompt to the meetings, turning in paperwork on time, and volunteering to do the extra things they need to have done.  We are all busy, so the more helping hands the easier it is for everyone.

Relay for Life team walking the trackCredit: jmwilding

Make the night of Relay an experience you won’t forget

Participate in activity possible.  The Relay activity and entertainment committees work hard to have a night that will be fun and keep everyone involved while you are walking the track.  Plan to stay for the whole night!  Plan activities throughout the night for just your team members to participate in whether it is just guessing games while you are walking the track.  No sleepy-heads!  Set up a schedule to make sure you have members out walking throughout the whole night.

Help the committee with their duties so that they can also enjoy the night.  Be organized with your paperwork and get it turned in immediately so the accounting committee can start adding up your Heart of Relay points!!!  Plan activities for other teams to participate in and go and participate in the activities the other teams have going.  GET INVOLVED! 

Spread the Word

You have a whole community that needs to hear about Relay.  You need to bring it up every time you can.  Invite friends and neighbors.  Hang posters up!  Put signs out.  Get the word out, and your Relay event will continue to grow! 


You will be meeting many other people that come from all different walks of life but we all have one thing in common: We want to fight cancer!  Let’s do it together!