Dr. Gordon Klatt, 1942-2014
Gordon “Gordy” Klatt, M.D., founder of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life event passed away August 3, 2014, at the age of 71 from heart failure after battling stomach cancer.
Gordy was one-of-a-kind. He helped shape an idea that started off as one man running and walking a track, and turned it into a global phenomenon for saving lives in every corner of the world.
One person can make a difference. Nowhere is that more evident than the story of Dr. Gordy Klatt and the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event that started in Tacoma, Washington, as the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer in 1985.
In May 1985, Dr. Klatt spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma.
Friends, family, and patients watched and supported him as he ran and walked more than 83.6 miles and raised $27,000 through pledges for the fight against cancer. As he circled the track, he thought of how he could get others to take part. He envisioned having teams participate in a 24-hour event to raise money to fight cancer. In 1986, 19 teams were part of the first relay event at the historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000.
Gordy's vision has grown into a nationwide event raising nearly $5 billion in fundraising to save lives from cancer. In addition, the American Cancer Society licenses 20 non-governmental cancer organizations in other countries to hold Relay For Life events to battle cancer across the globe.
As Gordy would still say, "Keep up the fight!"
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