The national fight against cancer will come to Pickerington next month when Pickerington High School North hosts the annual Relay For Life, starting at 10 a.m. June 19.

The national fight against cancer will come to Pickerington next month when Pickerington High School North hosts the annual Relay For Life, starting at 10 a.m. June 19.

The name of this year's event is slightly different Relay For Life of Pickerington-Reynoldsburg reflecting the fact that it will be a combined Relay serving both Pickerington and Reynoldsburg.

The 24-hour event at PHS North, 7800 Refugee Road, is designed to honor survivors, patients, caregivers and those lost to cancer, as well help raise funds to fight the disease.

The Relay For Life of Pickerington-Reynoldsburg currently is seeking people of all ages to form teams of eight to 15 people to take turns walking or running laps around the track while celebrating those touched by cancer and remembering those lost.

Money is raised by donations from individuals and local companies.

"Relay For Life is a nationwide, grassroots effort to fight cancer," said Bob Paschen, public relations director for the American Cancer Society's central Ohio region. "It's actually the largest grassroots fundraising effort in the United States to fight cancer.

"Relays usually last between 18 to 24 hours and symbolize the cancer journey," he said. "They start during the day, go through night, and end the next day, which symbolically signifies an individual's cancer journey from diagnosis, through treatment and into recovery and survivorship."

Relay For Life started in 1985 and now includes events held in 3,500 U.S. communities and 19 countries.

Ohio has been hosting Relay For Life events since 1995. Some 217 communities are participating across the state this year, according to the American Cancer Society.

Relay For Life events in Ohio raised $15.7-million in 2009. The American Cancer Society has set a goal of raising $16.9-million in Ohio this year.

"The significance of Relay For Life is to raise funds to fight cancer," Paschen said. "Americans, both men and women, have a one-in-three lifetime risk of getting cancer."

The American Cancer Society estimated that more than 1.5-million Americans would be diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

"Every one of us knows someone who has been touched by this disease if not ourselves, then a family member, close friend or coworker," Paschen said. "There are people with cancer in every one of our communities. And Relay For Life is a community event to help local families touched by cancer.

"Funds support research, as well as services and programs that are available for free to every individual and family in the United States."

Paschen said events such as Relay For Life have played an integral role in helping cancer patients prolong their lives and even beat cancer.

He said the five-year relative survival probability for all cancers diagnosed 1999 through 2005 has increased to 67 percent. That's up from 50 percent in 1975 through 1977, he said.

"Each Relay starts with a survivors' lap," he said. "At dusk, hundreds of luminaria illuminate Relay, with each luminaria dedicated to someone lost to cancer. It's quite emotional. Everyone from the community participates.

"Cancer is a serious issue, but Relay is also a celebration of life. We actually say that during Relay, we celebrate, remember and fight back. Relay is fun. There are games, music, food, camaraderie, contests, and the Miss Relay competition where men dress up in drag and raise money to fight cancer."

While Relay For Life is seeking local teams for the June 19 event, individuals also are welcome.

Information about the event, as well as an online registration form, can be found online at