Join us, Saturday May 2, in Cumberland Park for The American Cancer Association’s largest fundraising event Relay for Life. “Relay For Life is an event that includes everyone,” says Alexandra Alvarez, Community Manager at Nashville’s Relay for Life. The 12-hour fundraising event welcomes the community to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take affirmative action to prevent and end the fight.
Starting at 11am, Relay for Life will feature non-stop fun for kids and adults. There will be local food trucks, including Bao Down and Itty Bitty Donuts, alongside a full day of live music featuring Nashville’s Those Darlins, Walker Hayes, Doc Holladay, and plenty more.
Q&A with Alexandra Alvarez Community Manager, Relay for Life
How many events does The American Cancer Society host a year?
Relay For Life, nationwide, is celebrated in over 5,100 communities and in over 20 countries. It truly is the largest non-profit movement to end cancer. Here in Nashville, we host 33 Relay For Life events that spread all over the Middle Tennessee Area. Additionally, we host our Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, a Coaches vs. Cancer event, a corporate golf tournament, and soon, a Gala.
What makes Relay for Life different from the other events?
It brings the community together to finish the fight. It brings all ages, all businesses, all walks of life to gather and fight back for one day for 12-hours. It celebrates our local survivors, it remembers those we have lost, and it’s a statement event that says, “This will be cancer’s last century.”
Tell us about the Luminaria tribute bag. Is this a new addition to Relay for Life?
The Luminaria Ceremony is unique to Relay For Life events. It is a special time in the event where we truly reflect on everyone that has been affected by cancer. During this time, people can dedicate a white bag in honor or in memory of a loved one that has been affected by the disease. Typically, Relay For Life events have a special ceremony in the evening, and then participants silently walk a lap around the track.
This year, at the Relay For Life of Nashville, we will be lining the Pedestrian Bridge with these Lights of Hope and hold our Luminaria lap on the Pedestrian Bridge. We want to show all of Nashville that fighting cancer is a fight that we are ready and willing to take on. To light the bridge we will need 3,000 bags, and hope the community will consider purchasing one for just $10. All proceeds directly benefit the American Cancer Society.
What does the event itself symbolize to you?
Personally, this event symbolizes hope and determination. I have been involved with the Relay For Life movement since 2007, when my younger brother was diagnosed with brain cancer. I needed an outlet, a way to share what was going on with people who understood. Relay For Life provided that for me while I was going through college. I began my journey as a Team Captain and quickly became fascinated with the event, but more importantly how the fundraising dollars made a direct impact in our local community. I continued to become a part of Relay For Life throughout my undergraduate and graduate career, and knew that working for the American Cancer Society would be the right place for me. I have met so many wonderful people through my involvement with the American Cancer Society and Relay For Life. I’ve met survivors, caregivers, and just passionate people who want this deadly disease to end. It’s truly moving at the event to see so many people rally around each other to find a cure for cancer. This event symbolizes that there is hope for a cure, and that we are bound and determined to find it. Through research, advocacy, and education, we can stop this disease.
Tell us about your new mobile apps. How do you think this will make supporting and staying in touch easier?
The new mobile app is amazing. It makes fundraising so much easier for all of our registered participants. Instead of hoping you have your computer with you, or holding on to checks and cash donations, your friends and family can make a quick and easy donation to your individual fundraising page. The app is free to download.
How does working with volunteers help make Relay for Life a more empowering event?
Relay For Life is a volunteer-run event. There is a board of volunteers who plan the entire event: from recruiting teams, helping out with fundraising, organizing the stage lineup, and building sponsorship. The event is put on by people who have full-time jobs, families, personal lives and still find time to plan an extraordinary event filled with activities, live music, and fellowship. It’s incredible to see this many people come together and plan such a massive event that encompasses all different demographics. You know what’s also amazing? Our Team Captains are volunteers as well, and they dedicate so much time to gathering team members, hosting fundraisers before the event, and then having one team member walk the track at all times. They are truly inspirational.
What’s the best way for Nashville residents to involved with The American Cancer Society?
The best way is to come on out to the Relay For Life of Nashville. Stop by and see what Relay For Life is all about and how you can get involved in the fight against cancer in Nashville. We have so many ways to volunteer throughout the year, especially at our Nashville Hope Lodge and our other surrounding events. You can find out more information by visiting our website relayforlife.org/nashvilletn or following us on Facebook.