Relay For Life - Kristie Millican
On May 11 at 7:00pm runners and walkers will take their mark on the track at Carroll High School to begin the third annual Southlake Relay for Life. Hundreds of participants will walk throughout the night raising funds to fight the ongoing battle against cancer.
At the time of this writing more than 74 teams made up of over 865 participants have registered to be a part of the fast-growing fundraising effort that is near and dear to so many hearts. Here in Southlake, one woman has been involved with the Southlake Relay for Life since it’s inception two years ago and serves as this years Chairperson of the event, Kristie Millican.
Kristie became involved with the Southlake Relay for Life during the inaugural year when Tracy Flores, a school counselor that chaired the first two years, asked for her help. Kristie was immediately hooked, “Once I attended that first relay I knew that Relay for Life was something I would always do. The more stories you hear, the more you want to get involved and help fight.”
From humble beginnings almost 30 years ago, Relay for Life has grown to include cities large and small nationwide as people participate to celebrate the survivors, remember those who have lost their battle with cancer, and raise funds to continue the fight against this unforgiving disease. Though the Southlake event is relatively new, it was 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt decided to personally raise funds for his local American Cancer Society in Tacoma, Washington. He decided to show support for his patients who had battled cancer by running a 24-hour marathon around a local track. Friends donated $25 to run or walk alongside for 30 minutes and his efforts raised $27,000 toward fighting cancer. While he was circling the track Dr. Klatt envisioned how a team relay event could raise even more money and by the next year, with the help of a small committee, 19 teams took part in the very first Relay for Life. An event that started as a small effort by one man has become a nationwide phenomenon that touches the lives of ten of thousands.
As Chairperson of the Southlake event, Kristie works with a committee that continues to grow each year, keeping pace with the growth of the event. The committee includes a representative of the American Cancer Society and Kristie also mentioned that the partnership with CISD helps tremendously in the event’s success. The Southlake event has experienced continual growth in volunteers, attendees and dollars raised. The theme for this year is iRelay and playing off the popularity of anything tagged with an “i” the hope is to gain an even larger participation this year. In just two years the local event has raised over 500,000 dollars and the hope this year is to involve as many as 2,200 participants and meet the goal of raising 275,000 dollars.
Kristie came to Southlake 7 years ago with her husband Wesley and children Mackenzie (17) and Luke (14) then the family grew adding Kennedie. A two year veteran relay participant herself, six year old Kennedie told her Mom that her tumbling coach had cancer and she wanted to relay for her. It hit Kristie once again that everyone is touched by cancer in some way and we all can relay for a greater purpose. She said, “I relay for everyone, not one person or one cancer. I’ve heard so many different stories, I relay for everyone.”
“Finding a team to join is easy,” Kristie told us. In the past, teams have been limited to a certain number of members but no more. According to Kristie, “A team can have as many people as they can register. Dr. Heidi Jordan of Texas Oncology, started a team and it blossomed into over a hundred people who raised over 30,000 dollars in honor of her patients and their families.” Some of the bigger teams this year include Team Tony with over 30 walkers who have already raised more than 10,000 dollars and Walking the Walk with 29 members and over 2,000 dollars in raised funds. With so many teams available to join, Kristie encouraged people to find one that interests them by contacting any Team Captain from the Southlake Relay website and get in on the life-changing event.
Teams form for a wide variety of reasons. CSI:Southlake consists of middle-schoolers who got together in support of fellow students, Ryan Sheldon who lost his mother. Ryan, who serves as Team Captain, and the rest of the team have already passed their 1,000-dollar goal and are still going strong.
At local Carroll schools, teams have taken the CISD theme, “The Power of One” and “the power of change begins with me,” to heart. Using a PowerAde bottle team members collect silver coins until the bottle is filled (an average of $75.00) and then take the bottle to First Financial Bank where the coins will be converted to dollars for members to deliver to their Team Captains.
For Kristie there are so many parts of the night that make the Southlake Relay for Life memorable. “A true celebration of life happens at the beginning of the evening as survivors take a “Survivors Lap” around the track. “ Another big part of the evening is the Luminaria event, which Kristie explained; “After night has fallen we begin the Luminaria Event at 10:00pm. It’s a very moving ceremony that honors survivors and offers time for reflection to remember lost loved ones as volunteers and members of local service organizations work to place the lit luminarias around the entire ring of the track.” Each luminaria bag bears the name of someone whose life has been affected by cancer, representations of the Relay for Life Motto – Celebrate, Remember and Fight Back.
“I’ll always be involved with Relay for Life,” Kristie said, “Everyone is touched by cancer and this event represents all forms of cancer raising awareness and funds. It’s nice to be able to participate in something that crosses all borders.”
For whom do you relay?
Check out the opportunities to join in on this year’s Relay for Life.