Relay For Life Hall of Fame
In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt chose to walk and run around a local track for 24 hours to fundraise for those with cancer. Today, Relay For Life events continue to bring together passionate supporters who embody the American Cancer Society’s vision to end cancer as we know it, for everyone. This volunteer-led experience unites communities to celebrate cancer survivors, remember loved ones lost to cancer, and raise funds to support the mission of the American Cancer Society: 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.
Since that first day when Dr. Klatt took to the track in Tacoma, Washington, Relay For Life events have raised over $6.8 billion dollars to help save lives from cancer. Relay events engage more than 250,000 people across the nation, and the Relay movement has gone global with over 29 countries hosting Relay For Life events. Relay’s incredible impact would not be possible without those who have worked tirelessly to share their stories, empower and embolden others, and change the face of cancer as we know it through their visionary leadership, volunteer mentorship, and passion for the cause.
Dr. Gordy Klatt (1942 - 2014)
One person can make a difference. In May 1985, Dr. Gordon “Gordy” Klatt walked and ran for 24 hours around a track in Tacoma, Washington, raising money to help the American Cancer Society with the nation’s biggest health concern: cancer.
Gordy spent a grueling 24 hours circling the track at the University of Puget Sound. Friends, family, and patients watched and supported him as he walked and ran more than 83.6 miles and raised $27,000 through pledges to help save lives from 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 fundraising event. The next year, 19 teams were part of the first Relay For Life event at the historical Stadium Bowl and raised $33,000.
After previously battling stomach cancer, Gordy passed away from heart failure on August 3, 2014 at the age of 71. But his legacy lives on. He shaped an idea that started as one man walking and running a track and helped turn it into a global fundraising phenomenon.
Pat Flynn (1938- 2018)
1st Team Captain at Tacoma Washington Relay For Life
Pat Flynn was a volunteer who worked tirelessly to change the face of cancer forever. Her life’s legacy includes three children, 15 grandchildren, and a cancer-fighting legacy of over 2,500 fundraising events in 30 countries, with 1.3 million participants. Pat is known to us all as the “Mother of Relay For Life.” She helped turn an idea into a movement that would reach countless communities, raising over $6 billion to fight cancer and save lives since the inception of this grassroots concept in 1985. For more than three decades, Pat was a leader and driving force behind the Relay For Life movement, which has grown into the world’s largest and most impactful fundraising event to lead the fight against cancer. Her enormous efforts helped change lives forever and empowered communities around the world to have hope.
Her legacy has made a tremendous impact on so many throughout the world. We will miss Pat dearly, but she will never be forgotten, and she can be best remembered in her own words.
"As a mother, you want to see your children grow and have an impact on the world around them. As the ‘Mother of Relay,’ I am thrilled to see the energy and spirit of Relayers continue to grow around the world. They have taken the light of Relay For Life from us here in the United States and are truly united with us in creating a world without cancer."
Terry Zahn (1946-2000)
Terry was an award-winning news anchor on WVEC- TV in Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was involved in leading his hometown Hampton Roads Relay For Life event in the early 1990s and produced a local video to help promote the event. While Terry never intended for the video to be used outside his area, thousands of copies of the video (VHS) were made, and it became the way most people were introduced to Relay around the country.
Terry was an obvious candidate to serve on the very first nationwide RFL Volunteer Advisory Team. He created a second outstanding RFL promotional video, this time with the intention for it to be used across the nation and worldwide. Terry was a great storyteller, and the videos he created reflected his skill, determination, and dedication to the fight against cancer. While working so diligently with Relay, Terry developed multiple myeloma. He used his position in the media community to share his personal story in a documentary 'My Race Against Cancer.'
Phylecia Wilson has a long history with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Relay For Life, having volunteered with ACS since the mid-70s and with Relay since 1993. Phylecia helped start the first Gwinnett County Relay. She is a past chair of the RFL National Advisory Team and the South Atlantic RFL Task Force, she chaired the RFL Global effort for two years, and served on the boards of the South Atlantic division, the National ACS CAN Board, and the former ACS National Assembly. Phylecia has traveled to countries worldwide (Australia, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Ireland) as a global Relay For Life trainer and member of the RFL National Leadership Training Team, and she has lead Relay training across the United States. Prior to Relay For Life, she was active in the ACS Gwinnett unit and was one of the early presidents of the Gwinnett Auxiliary, working on the very successful HOPE Fashion Show in its early years.
Phylecia received the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) National Award for Excellence in Advocacy (2010), the ACS National Volunteer Leadership Award (2008), and the ACS St. George Medal (1997).
Robert Brodell, MD aka: Dr. Bob
There is no one more enthusiastic about Relay than Dr. Bob. His hometown Relay event in Warren, Ohio, was a model of success, but perhaps his most important contribution was being instrumental in forging the idea of a Relay-like event in Washington, D.C., to jumpstart the advocacy efforts of the American Cancer Society (ACS). His initial efforts, along with those of ACS advocacy leader Dan Smith, led to the 2002 and 2006 Celebrations on the Hill, an amazing demonstration of community involvement and commitment.
Dr. Bob always started any meeting, training, or event with his Relay Cheer to build up energy and excitement. He has always been a huge cheerleader for Relay. At national meetings it was not at all unusual for him to offer to check suspicious moles, showing both his sense of humor and perpetual support of getting screened.
Jeff lost his mother to cancer very suddenly, which spurred his involvement with the Relay For Life movement in his hometown of Shelby, North Carolina. This experience allowed him to grow both personally and professionally, and no one involved with Relay has informed, motivated, or excited more people than Jeff. He has an amazing ability to tell his story in such a compelling way that truly inspires others. Everything he says comes from the heart. When once asked how he was able to raise so much money, Jeff’s answer was, "Nobody told me I couldn't." Jeff is a St. George Award recipient.
Reuel Johnson spent 40 years as an American Cancer Society employee. Throughout his tenure with the organization, he held leadership positions in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Southeast divisions. Reuel was part of a staff group that developed the unique organizational plan to manage and direct the Relay For Life program. He led the Relay For Life Business Unit as national director and served as national vice president from 1996-2013. Under Reuel’s visionary leadership, Relay evolved into a global movement in dozens of countries, in thousands of communities, with millions of participants raising billions of dollars. Reuel retired in 2013 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame the same year.
Laura has held leadership positions in nearly every organizational level within Relay For Life. She served as the Bethel Relay For Life chair, when she led committees and organized the townwide event with 90+ teams. As the New England Relay For Life Task Force chair, she led a committee comprised of area leadership volunteers for the New England states. Laura led a team of volunteer trainers across the US as the nationwide Relay Training Team chair. And in her capacity as the Global Relay For Life chair, she led a team of volunteers to expand the Relay For Life program globally. In August of 2016, Laura was inducted to the Relay For Life Hall of Fame and became the ninth member of this group.
Laura McCormick has been a volunteer with the American Cancer Society for more than 25 years. Laura resides in Bethel, Connecticut, where she teaches art to students of all ages and creates commissioned artwork. She finds joy in art, her family (husband of 37 years, three adult children and their spouses, and four grandsons), and volunteering alongside passionate, talented people all over the world.
Joe began his involvement with the American Cancer Society in 2010 through Relay For Life of Brooklyn, and he quickly positioned himself as a national leader. A social media enthusiast, Joe continually generates innovative ideas to make Relay more meaningful, and he brings them to life by rallying volunteers across the globe. In fact, it was Joe’s inspiration that brought the American Cancer Society’s Relay First Lap to fruition.
Thanks to Joe’s vision, the first Saturday of the year is now Relay First Lap a day – when Relay For Life enthusiasts gather their teams to take the first lap of the new year together, while encouraging new participants to sign up online and start their fundraising efforts. Joe also launched an annual Relay For Life fundraising calendar to support team efforts. This unique calendar engages members of the Relay community with fun, creative themes each year. Not only does Joe serve as a mentor to others, but he quite literally puts his money where his mouth is, having achieved almost half a million dollars in personal fundraising to date across a variety of ACS programs and events.
As an active member of the Greater New York City Board of Advisors for the American Cancer Society, Joe brings his passion for fundraising to all aspects of the organization’s mission, including raising funds and awareness for key patient support programs and services, such as free lodging and transportation for people facing cancer. After being diagnosed with cancer himself, Joe’s family and Relay friends rallied globally to support and encourage him along his journey. Joe resides in Brooklyn with his wife Debbie, their adult children and their spouses, who all join him at Relay events to continually raise awareness and funds to help end cancer as we know it, for everyone.
Would you like to lead the team or join the team?
This isn’t what I wanted.
Cancer has touched all of us in some way. And we want to stop this disease in its tracks. We'll spend the next few weeks fundraising for the American Cancer Society. Then, on the day of the event, we'll honor the lives lost to cancer, celebrate survivors, and support the caregivers who so selflessly help others.
Together, we'll be a part of making a difference in this important cause.