Who is Dr. Gordy Klatt?

One person. That is all it takes to make a different in this world. One idea to spark it all, and with Dr. Gordy Klatt, that is exactly what happened.

It started with an idea from Klatt to generate more money for his local American Cancer Society chapter in Tacoma, Washington. Klatt worked as a colorectal surgeon and saw the need for their chapter to increase their funds. He decided to take what he loved doing outside of work, running, and make it into a fundraiser on his own.

In May of 1985 Klatt circled the track for 24 hours at Baker Stadium at University of Puget Sound. In the 24 hours he completed over 83 miles, his friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him. Almost 300 of his friends came out to watch and participate. In that 24 hours he raised $27,000 in the fight against cancer.

While he ran, Klatt thought of how he could make this bigger and better for the coming years. He wanted to create a 24 hour relay team that would continue to raise money for the American Cancer Society. In the months following he pulled together a committee of people to plan the first ever relay event and they called it the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer.

That next year in 1986, the first event was held in the same stadium. It was composed of 19 teams and together they raised $33,000.

Since that year, the event has grown and expanded nationally and internationally. Now it is called Relay For Life. A few things have changed but the overall idea is still the same vision that Klatt had all those years ago, to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Today, it is still a 24 hour event and you join a team to walk the track with you. Along the way money is raised, new people become friends, and together fundraisers save the lives of countless cancer patients.

Klatt emailed the American Cancer Society staff and said,

“Throughout the years I have spoken and written about how cancer can personally affect everyone. It affects the rich, the poor, and all nationalities and cultures around the world. About 4 weeks ago I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and I have begun my battle with this disease using chemotherapy.”

So now after creating an international event in the fight against cancer, Klatt has been diagnosed with stomach cancer. He is scheduled to be operated on this summer, but still has high hopes to attend his local Relay For Life event in Tacoma Washington on June 8, 2013.

Over the years, Relay For Life has raised more than $4.8 billion dollars. While it is an impressive number to see, what is more impressive is the amount of birthdays cancer patients are able to celebrate each year because of this event. It has been an inspiration for survivors, caregivers and many, many communities around the world.

Klatt sent an email of encouragement to participants in the 2012 Relay season writing,

“I am even more energized to defeat this disease worldwide. I will again be with all of you in spirit this Relay season – even more so this year. Celebrate the survivors; remember those who lost the battle and fight back! We all need to celebrate more birthdays and by relaying we keep the hope alive through education, community involvement and fundraising for ongoing research.”

If you too wanted to find another way to get involved on your college campuses, look up a club at your school called Colleges Against Cancer.

This club, while fairly new, puts on the Relay For Life event at many universities. If your school does not have this club, consider starting it and sharing the same vision that Dr. Klatt had so many years ago.

Keep the tradition going and join in the fight against cancer to create a world with more birthday celebrations.

To read even more about Dr. Gordy Klatt click here. 

Related Posts

The following two tabs change content below.
Kait Freeberg

Kait Freeberg

Kait Freeberg is a junior at Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo pursuing a degree in journalism. At school, Kait can be found interviewing people or hitting the gym. As the Colleges Against Cancer president, Kait helps to fight cancer and she educates her peers on the disease. Apart from school she works two jobs, enjoys traveling, and cooking for her roommates.