“Throughout the years I have spoken and written about how cancer can personally affect everyone. It affects the rich, the poor, and all nationalities and cultures around the world. About 4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and I have begun my battle with this disease using chemotherapy.”
Klatt is also scheduled to have surgery this summer. Despite his condition, he is tentatively planning to attend his local Relay on June 8 in Tacoma, Washington.
Relay For Life started in the mid-1980s in Tacoma, Washington when Klatt, a colorectal surgeon, wanted to enhance the income of his local American Cancer Society. He decided to personally raise money for the fight by doing something he enjoyed — running marathons.
In the spring of 1985, Klatt spent 24 hours going around a local track –more than 83 miles – and throughout the night, nearly 300 people paid money to run or walk at intervals with him. He raised $27,000, and the experience led to his vision of 24-hour relay teams that raise money for cancer research.
Klatt’s vision turned into an annual program which has raised more than $4.8 billion, and has been an inspiration for millions of cancer survivors, caregivers and communities across the globe.
From Atlanta to Kuala Lumpur, local Relays are just getting underway for the 2012 season which runs each year from April through August. In his email, Klatt encouraged participants to keep up the fight.
“I am even more energized to defeat this disease worldwide. I will again be with all of you in spirit this Relay season – even more so this year. Celebrate the survivors; remember those who lost the battle and fight back! We all need to celebrate more birthdays and by relaying we keep the hope alive through education, community involvement and fundraising for ongoing research.”
Regarding the news, Reuel Johnson, national vice president for Relay For Life offers this message for participants:
“The best way we can pay tribute and honor Gordy is to redouble our efforts in the 2012 Relay season … adding one more team, one more team member or one more additional donation…. and creating an extra meaningful Relay experience for those touched by that Relay spirit that we all learned from Gordy. Let’s all commit to lighting a special luminaria in honor of the founder of Relay at every Relay across the world.”