Mariah Forster Olson, an ACS CAN Ambassador Constituent Team Lead (ACT Lead), traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to share her story as a childhood cancer survivor and to advocate on behalf of other patients and survivors during the 2019 Childhood Cancer Action Days.
Amplifying Community Voices Through Relay For Life
Decisions are made every day that could help us prevent, treat and find cures for cancer. There is a lot of work to be done, and we need more communities to join our movement to end cancer through legislative and policy change. One way in which we engage communities to do this is through our integration with the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Relay For Life® (Relay).
As ACS’ signature fundraising event, Relay gathers participants from across the country and around the world to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember loved ones lost to the disease, and to take action to fight back against it. These community gatherings include teams and individuals who camp out at a school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path for up to 24 hours.
Relay is an opportunity for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) to raise awareness about our work to reduce cancer incidence and death through advocacy, which includes advocating for an increase in cancer research funding, supporting higher tobacco taxes to discourage the purchase of cigarettes, smoke-free and tobacco-free laws, and ensuring everyone has access to care that will improve their quality of life. In addition, each year we focus on key legislative priorities and ask participants to take action on them. This year, we are asking participants to sign petitions encouraging their lawmakers to support cancer research funding.
As Relay season comes to an end, it’s important to highlight that in 2017 alone, we have gained 20,000 ACS CAN members through Relay events. We have also been able to recognize 133 Relay events as ACS CAN Club events, which is an event that recruits 40 or more members. These newly recruited members will have an opportunity to share their personal cancer experience and encourage lawmakers to become champions for cancer research. I encourage you to visit www.fightcancer.org/relay to learn more about these efforts and how to get involved.
We’re extremely proud of the work of our volunteers as they are at the heart of our shared mission with ACS. We wouldn’t have achieved what we have to date without their dedication and support. ACS CAN exists to amplify the voice of cancer patients, survivors and their families at all levels of government, and integrating with Relay events gives us a stronger and louder voice in the fight against cancer.