The History of Relay For Life

Relay For Life is the largest non-profit fundraising event in the world, and now takes place in more than 20 countries! It all started in 1985 in Tacoma, Washington USA, when a Surgeon, Dr. Gordy Klatt, a keen runner, decided he wanted to make a difference and walked around a track for 24hours. He raised $27,000 for the American Cancer Society. The following year he recruited a committee and 19 teams to join him on this unique overnight experience, and Relay For Life was born! test

Relay For Life is under licence here to Cancer Research UK and the events are led by volunteers.

Relay For Life in Aylesbury

Since Relay For Life Aylesbury launched in 2009 we have raised a staggering total of £732,895 . The full breakdown by year is as follows:

2009 – £28,800

2010 – £33,043

2011 – £41,148

2012 – £58,080

2013 – £75,204

2014 – £103,166

2015 – £108,538

2016 – £105,035

2017 – £72,273

2018 – £107,608

We have teams consisting of family members, work colleagues and friends. They range in age from a few months to very ‘senior’ citizens, male and female.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Relay For Life?

Relay for Life is a fund-raising event for Cancer Research UK. It is a 24 hour, non-athletic team event that takes place over a weekend.

Do I have to run for 24 hours?

No, team members take it in turns to walk (or run if they wish) round the track.  

Who can take part?

The team is ideally made up of between 8 and 15 people. They can be family, friends, work colleagues etc. Team members can be of any age, male and female – we have toddlers to grandparents take part. Cancer survivors (anyone who has had a cancer diagnosis, either past or present) can also register to take part, either as part of a team or as our special guests.

How much does it cost?

There is no fee to pay to register a team or team members.

Do I have to get sponsored for how many laps I walk?

No, it isn’t like a sponsored race, it is more like Children in Need. The teams do a variety of fund-raising activities during the months leading up to the Relay. The activities have included coffee mornings, cake sales, race night, salsa night, waxing sessions and raffles. A very effective way to raise money is online with a CRUK  Relay For Life donation page which also allows us to claim Gift Aid. This can be set up when you register.

Why overnight?

This is symbolic – cancer doesn’t sleep so neither do we.  

What happens at the Relay?

After the opening ceremony, our cancer survivors take the first lap, cheered on by their supporters and the teams. The teams then take their opening lap, wearing their team outfits and following behind their team banner. Each team decides on their theme – we have had pirates, daisies, wizards, footballers, cops & robbers and Where’s Wally to name but a few. Our cancer survivors are then treated to a delicious lunch while the team members settle into their walking. Some teams organise their rota so that 2 people walk together for an hour or two, others walk on their own for half an hour. The team captain works out what is best for their team. Each team has their own stall where they can offer games, raffles or some activity to raise some extra funds on the day. Previous themes have included carnival, beach party and celebration. Throughout the weekend there is plenty of entertainment to keep everyone going from singers and dancers to quizzes and displays. There are also special, themed laps such as decorated sun hats, flower power, glow in the dark and bad hair day (that is a Sunday morning one!). There are lots of opportunities to let your imagination run riot!

Candle of Hope ceremony

A significant part of Relay For Life is the Candle of Hope ceremony, which takes place as it begins to get dark. Here we take time to reflect on why we are taking part in this event with music, poems and readings. People decorate candle bags and dedicate them to loved ones that have been lost to cancer or to those who are surviving. A candle is put in the bag and they are all put round the track to provide the light through the night.  


We then make our final push towards the finish on Sunday. We have a closing ceremony where awards are handed out for things such as best team outfit, best decorated stall. We also have a trophy for the top fund-raising team and a Spirit of Relay shield.  

What about food and drink?

There will be a variety of hot food and drinks available to buy throughout the event. We also supply free hot drinks overnight. You can, of course, bring your own supplies to keep you going throughout the event.

Do I have to stay up all night?

No, although most do. Bring camping gear with you and you can pitch your tent for the night.  

That all sounds great, how do I join in?

If you would like to take part then Contact Us through the website; or call 07910 100963. You can also visit our Take Part page where more info is available. One reason