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Relay for Life coming to USM-Gorham 

The following is an interview with Relay for Life leader, George Mageles,  

Can you tell us about the mission of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event?

The mission of the American Cancer Society is to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support, to ensure everyone has an opportunity to prevent, detect, treat, and survive cancer.  Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser.  It offers everyone in the community an opportunity to participate in the fight against cancer.  They sign up as Survivors, Caregivers, and Teams who all raise funds to fight cancer.  They raise money throughout the year to support the mission of the American Cancer Society and to fund much needed research to save lives.

What inspired you to become involved with Relay For Life of Southern Maine?  

I first attended a Relay For Life event in 2006 in Saratoga, California as a Team Captain.  In the following years I became more involved, serving as Event Lead in several California Communities before relocating back to Maine.  This will be my second year as Event Lead for the Relay For Life of Southern Maine.  My goal, as Event Lead, is to create the best experience possible for all of our Survivors, Caregivers, Participants, and Guests.

How does Relay For Life support cancer survivors and caregivers in the community?  

Relay For Life funds the many programs and services of the American Cancer Society.  These include The Hope Lodge Program that offers a free stay for cancer patients and their caregivers when they have to travel for treatment, the Road to Recovery program that offers free rides to cancer patients who would otherwise have difficulty getting to their cancer-related appointments, the Cancer Survivors Network that provides a safe online connection where cancer patients and caregivers can find others with similar experiences and interests, the Reach To Recovery Program that connects breast cancer patients with trained volunteers to receive peer-to-peer support, and the Tender Loving Care program that offers those whose appearance has been altered by treatment a variety of affordable wigs, hats, and scarves as well as a full range of mastectomy products.  Call 1-800-227-2345 or visit for a 24/7 Cancer Helpline and to learn more about these programs and services.

What are some of the highlights and activities planned for this year’s Relay For Life event in Gorham?  

Our Relay For Life event in Gorham will open with cancer survivors and caregivers taking the first lap around the track at the indoor fieldhouse.  This emotional time sets the stage for the importance of each participant’s contribution.  A festive atmosphere always develops as participants make new friends and spend time with old ones.  Participants will walk the track with stops at team sites to play games, enter prize drawings, and learn about the many programs and services of the American Cancer Society. Highlighting the evening is the Luminaria Ceremony of Hope to honor cancer survivors and to remember loved ones lost to cancer.  Decorated white bags are lit and set out around the track, and after listening to an Inspirational Speaker we all take a Silent Lap to remember our loved ones.

Could you share a memorable moment from a past Relay For Life event that touched you deeply?  

The moments that touch me deeply usually involve cancer survivors, caregivers, and youth.  I recall a time when I joined two caregivers as they walked along the track one evening.  They had just met at the event and were both very moved by sharing experiences about caregiving that only another caregiver could truly understand.  They were very appreciative and thankful to the event leadership and promised to get more involved the next year.

How do you engage and involve local businesses and sponsors in supporting Relay For Life of Southern Maine?  

We have a full range of Sponsorship levels, beginning with our $100 Friend of Relay track sign recognition.  Each expanding level – $250 Purple, $500 Bronze, $1000 Silver, $1500 Gold, $2500 Platinum, and $5000 Presenting Sponsor – includes more recognition at each level.  We also invite and encourage local businesses and sponsors to register a team and join us on the track at the event.

Can you speak to the impact of community involvement and participation in Relay For Life on cancer research and patient support programs?  

In addition to supporting the programs and services of the American Cancer Society, community involvement and participation in Relay For Life helps fund the importance research by the American Cancer Society.  In a recent year, there were more than 60 researchers employed to conduct cancer research full time and at any one point in time more than 800 researchers throughout the country and across cancer types are being funded by Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society.

How can individuals who are unable to attend the event still contribute to the cause and support Relay For Life?  

We invite everyone to come out to our event on Friday evening, April 5 from 6-10pm.  For those who can’t attend and still want to contribute, go to

Relay For Life | Cancer Walk | Cancer Fundraising Events

Relay For Life events are life-changing cancer fundraising events that help communities across the globe fight back against cancer.  to make a general donation or a specific one to an individual’s or team’s fundraiser.  Contact our leadership to provide an in-kind donation such as a gift card or other gift from your company.  Purchase Luminaria Bags from our website In Honor of or In Memory of your loved ones that we will decorate and place along the track at the event.

What role do volunteers play in organizing and executing Relay For Life events, and how can people get involved in volunteering for future events?  

Relay For Life of Southern Maine is volunteer-led, with remote support from our staff partner, a community manager from the American Cancer Society.  We have several unfilled roles for this year’s event, along with general help needed to set up, operate, and take down the event.  We love having volunteers from Scouting, Athletics, High School Groups, College Clubs, Local Companies, Faith Organizations, and others.

What measures are in place to ensure the safety and well-being of participants during the Relay For Life event, particularly considering the ongoing public health situation?  

Relay For Life is a Tobacco-free, Alcohol-free event open to everyone.  No pets other than service animals.  Masks optional.  Everyone is welcome to experience the event in the way that they wish to, such as meeting and interacting with others or simply walking the track on their own.

How does the Relay For Life event contribute to raising awareness about cancer prevention and early detection in the local community?  

At our event – signage, banners, and an American Cancer Society Mission Table will provide information about cancer prevention and early detection in our local community.

How do you envision the future growth and impact of Relay For Life events in Southern Maine and beyond?  

We have a passionate and dedicated community of survivors, caregivers, and participants who come out for Relay For Life every year – some have been “relaying” for more than 25 years!  And we know that our youth are the future of Relay.  We moved our event date from late June to early April this year, partly so we can have more involvement from local schools and colleges.  We would love to see a team formed from many of our local learning institutions.

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