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Love Notes Around the World bloom for cancer patients

​LA-area staff and volunteers collected hundreds of notes during Rose Parade and Floatfest.

ACS Los Angeles-area staff and volunteers spent Jan. 1 and 2 at the Tournament of Roses’ Floatfest in Pasadena, California, where the team hosted a booth amidst the fragrant floats like City of Hope. They interacted with hundreds of people who penned letters called Love Notes Around The World, which ACS staff planned to deliver to cancer patients via our nearby hospital system partners. 

Love Notes launched digitally as a pilot project in 2020 with major corporations and participants now spanning the globe. This year more than $800 was contributed onsite and online to the campaign. 

"Though we had an abundance of resources available, visitors mainly wanted the opportunity to share cancer stories in honor of or in memory of those they love and to offer support," said Dan Witzling, senior executive director. "Adults and children alike took their time writing thoughtful messages in multiple languages."

Staff are grateful to the hosts of Tournament of Roses, particularly its Chair Dr. Bob Miller who ensured our booth would not incur any fees. The Rose Parade and Floatfest are managed primarily by hundreds of dedicated and longstanding volunteers, many of whom volunteer for decades and in multiple generations. This phenomenon is not unfamiliar with ACS, with our Relay For Life festival-style community gatherings that also bring together dedicated volunteer heroes and survivors. 

Witzling shares thanks to Love Notes Founder Vivian Chan, LA Board Member Jean Kagan, Santa Clarita Relay For Life longtime volunteer Kathleen Pavard, Kathy Smith, Tyler Vacca, along with our staff team Abby Smith (lead, pictured), Sharon Hall, Jennifer Maduko, and all who participated.


  • WATCH Relay For Life Kickoff 2022 replay

    Share your #RelayFirstLap photos and videos from Saturday, Jan. 8 on social media.

    Excitement is ramping up for the 2022 Relay For Life season which kicked off on Tuesday, Jan. 4, with a fun virtual event leading up to our official Relay First Lap on Saturday, Jan. 8. The question now is not, "Are you ready for Relay?" but "Is Relay ready for you?"

    A Relay Kickoff & First Lap Toolkit are available to help spread the word in your community and within your networks. The toolkit includes social posts and banners, post copy, and more. The save the date are available now available at these links: Kickoff and #RelayFirstLap.

    #RelayFirstLap

    On Saturday, Jan. 8, Relayers came together for Relay First Lap – taking our first steps of the Relay season on the same day, wherever we are located. This can be a walk in your neighborhood, around your house, in a park nearby, or simply your favorite place to take a walk. Did you snap a photo or quick video? Please share  it on social media using the hashtag #RelayFirstLap. To learn more, follow the Relay First Lap Facebook page and/or watch this video.

    Relay 2022 Kickoff

    On Jan. 4, Saralyn Lash, a survivor and nationwide Relay For Life lead, and Jason Masony, a caregiver and nationwide Voice of Hope lead, led the virtual 2022 kickoff. Watch the replay on Facebook. We celebrated cancer survivors, remembered those lost to cancer, and shared ways we are fighting back. (You can also watch the replay on YouTube.)

    "A big part of my healing came when I was invited to Relay For Life, and I moved from being a victim of cancer to being a survivor whose life is celebrated by an entire Relay For Life community," said Lash, a 28-year survivor of endometrial cancer. "I have so many Relay friends now who are truly like family."

    "I think the worst thing we heard was the surgeon after the first surgery (who) said, "You know, if you got your preventive screenings we wouldn't have even needed this surgery or the chemotherapy we're about to talk about," recalled Masony, a caregiver who lost his wife to stage IV colon cancer. "So, I made it my life mission after that to make sure that I remind people about getting their preventive screenings and a second promise of continuing her fight."

    Sign up now

    During the past two years, Relayers have figured out how to continue to give back and fight back during a global pandemic. In 2022, Relay For Life events will continue across the country as safely as possible. If you haven’t already signed up for Relay For Life – please do so today.


  • ACS CAN welcomes three new Board members in 2022

    ​Maureen G. Mann, MS, MBA, FACHE of Florida will serve as chair.

    Beginning January 1, 2022, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Board will welcome three new directors.

    In November, the ACS CAN Board of Directors elected officers and directors for the 2022 term.

    David Ford, Los Angeles, CA (far left in photo) – Mr. Ford is senior government relations manager at Southern California Edison, managing relationships with government municipalities and promoting awareness of a clean energy future. He serves on several strategic and philanthropic boards including with the American Cancer Society West Region Los Angeles, Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Association of Blacks in Energy and Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber Educational Foundation. As an ACS CAN California volunteer advocate, Mr. Ford has experience sharing his personal cancer story with stakeholders to highlight the complex issues many patients and survivors experience and how policymakers can take action to address them.

    David O. Garcia, PhD, FACSM, Tucson, AZ (center) – Dr. Garcia is an associate professor at Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona and has extensive experience in physical activity, diet, and weight management. Dr. Garcia also serves as assistant director for Community Outreach & Engagement for the University of Arizona Cancer Center, where he examines the burden of obesity-related diseases and cancers in Mexican-Origin adults, expertise that he will leverage when advocating for policymakers to pursue public policies aimed at reducing cancer disparities.

    Omar M. Rashid, MD, JD, FACS, FSSO, DABS, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (far right in photo) – Dr. Rashid specializes in surgical oncology and robotic surgery and is board-certified in Complex General Surgical Oncology and General Surgery. His research team leads initiatives related to cancer care, surgical care, health policy, cancer prevention and survivorship. Dr. Rashid serves as an ACS CAN volunteer advocate in Florida, urging his elected officials to prioritize policies that increase access to health care, reduce the burden of tobacco addiction and bolster lifesaving cancer research and prevention programs. He is chair of the American Cancer Society Southeast Florida Area Board and serves on the American Cancer Society Broward County Board.

    The following ACS CAN Board members were elected to serve as officers in 2022:

    • Maureen G. Mann, MS, MBA, FACHE – Chair
    • Kimberly L. Jeffries Leonard, PhD – Vice Chair
    • Bernard Jackvony, JD – Treasurer
    • John J. Manna, Jr., Esq. – Secretary

    Sandra Cassese, MSN, RN, CNS, will serve as Immediate Past Chair of the Board.

    We recognize and thank Richard L. Deming, MD, and John Alfonso, CPA, CGMA, whose terms on the Board end December 31, 2021. 


  • Watch the replay of our evening of gospel

    Watch a replay of the Dec. 4 Partnering For Life event that treated viewers to fantastic gospel performances and information about the American Cancer Society. 

    The show begins 8 minutes in. Our CEO Karen Knudsen, MBA, PhD, addresses viewers at 12:14 minutes in. And, Tawana Thomas Johnson, our senior vice president and chief diversity officer, speaks at 1 hour and 30 minutes in.

    The event was hosted live by actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, star of the revived hit show ‘The Game’, and spotlight previously taped performances by Jonathan Nelson, multiple Stellar Award winner and Dove Award-nominated gospel artist; Maurette Brown Clark, multiple Stellar Award winner and Dove Award-nominated gospel artist; Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music, multiple Stellar Award nominated gospel choir; and Dottie Peoples, Grammy Award nominee and multiple Stellar Award winner. 

    ACS created Partnering For Life to share essential information and resources about cancer risk, prevention, and early detection. As reported by ACS in Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans (2019-2021), African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the U.S. for most cancers. Partnering For Life is one of several ways ACS is working to advance health equity by addressing cancer disparities for Black people. 

    “PFL serves as a critical link in improving cancer outcomes and saving lives from the disease,” Tawana said. “This effort is helping reduce health disparities and creating better qualities of life throughout our Black communities by providing individuals, families, and organizations with relevant cultural assets and the latest cancer resources.”  

    Partnering For Life participating organizations include 100 Black Men of America, African Methodist Episcopal Church, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Black Women’s Agenda, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., The Links, Incorporated, National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., National Black Justice Coalition, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.  

    Learn more about Partnering For Life by visiting cancer.org/partneringforlife.


  • 2022 Voices of Hope calendar ready to order

    It celebrates survivors and raises funds for our mission.

    The American Cancer Society Voices of Hope is a nationwide group of cancer survivors and caregivers who share their personal stories of their cancer journey to inspire others to support our lifesaving mission. Serving as a highly visible model of personal victory over the disease, 14 of our Voices of Hope members are now being featured in a special calendar with all proceeds going to support the ACS mission.

    The 2022 calendar, titled “Once Upon a Relay,” celebrates the diversity of cancer survivors and caregivers, the journeys they each take, and the fairytale character each associates with the most. 

    Order calendars here. For a $20 donation to ACS you get one calendar, and a $30 donation will get you two.

    “The Once Upon A Relay calendar has been a fairy tale project for me, pun intended,” said Joe Gillette, longtime ACS volunteer from the Northeast Region. “My collaboration with members of the Voices of Hope survivors and caregivers has been enchanting. Pun intended again. At first glance you will no doubt get caught up in the color and creativity of each of the Voice's layouts. Then, on second glance, you will come to learn the moral of this project, that every voice can wield the most powerful tool of all – its story.”

    The Voices of Hope members featured in this calendar include:

    • Ashley McAuley, Houston, Texas
    • Becky Euler, Duncan Wakarusa, Kansas
    • Debbie Leslie, McDonald Alvin, Texas
    • Diane Denoyer, Traverse City, Michigan
    • Jason Masony, Medina, Ohio
    • Jean Tolley Grieve, Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    • Julie Turner, Vandalia, Ohio
    • Krista Lee, Elgin, Texas
    • Marcia Sharkey, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
    • Robin Campbell, Kingman, Arizona
    • Sara Thornburgh, Lebanon, Tennessee
    • Shelly Miller, Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Theresa Sells Miller, Waller, Texas
    • Tina Clower Atchison, Little Elm, Texas 
    • Valerie Frazier, Martinsville, Indiana

  • Start a Raise Your Way fundraiser today

    The platform empowers supporters to raise money for ACS anywhere, anytime.

    Raise Your Way lets anyone turn an activity they are passionate about into a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. This year, the Raise Your Way program has already raised more than $2M towards our mission. 

    Anyone wanting to start a new fundraiser through Raise Your Way can get started on the Raise Your Way website. It can support: 

    • An event or activity of the supporter’s choice
    • General ACS fundraising (with no restrictions or designations)
    • Specific restrictions or programs, such cancer research or mission programs
    • Walk events including Relay For Life and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

     Here's how to get started:

    1. Go to raiseyourway.donordrive.com.
    2. Select Fundraise under one of the available options: 
      • Donate Your Day
      • Create Your Own
      • Honor a Loved One
      • Let’s Conquer Lung Cancer
      • Fight Breast Cancer
    3. Click “Create a Page” and follow the setup process. 
    4. Customize your fundraising page and story. 
    5. Share the page with friends and family and start fundraising for ACS.

    If you want to direct funds raised through Raise Your Way to a specific cancer type or event, please talk to an ACS staff person to obtain special coding before you start fundraising.  

    Resources: 

    • Raise Your Way Quick Reference Guide: Step-by-step instructions for fundraising your way. 
    • Code your fundraiser to your Society Key/campaign: Complete this form to get your code
    • Adding incentives to your fundraiser: Incentives entice donors to give by offering a desirable item or experience in return for a set donation amount. You can create a single incentive or a set of incentives to choose from. Learn more.
    • Adding milestones to your fundraiser: Milestones are a great way to encourage your donors to give more by helping you achieve fundraising mini goals on the way to raising the total target amount of your fundraiser. You can tie milestones to specific actions such as “When I raise $1,000, I’ll dye my hair blue.” Mission or patient services can also be used as goals. Learn more

  • 4 U.S. Relayers named Global Heroes of Hope

    The class of 2022 is made up of 24 volunteers from nine countries.

    Congratulations to our newly selected Global Heroes of Hope, all from the U.S. There are 24 of them, and each one brings a face, voice, and personal story to the fight against cancer, as well as reinforces the importance of the work we do on a daily basis.  

    The USA Relay For Life 2022 Global Heroes of Hope are: 

    • Jason Masony (OH)
    • Keisha Pittman McKinney (AR)
    • Kristi Jones (AZ) 
    • Michael Holtz (TN)

    The names of all 24 are pictured on the image above. 

    The American Cancer Society Global Relay For Life Heroes of Hope Program profiles cancer survivors and caregivers whose work exemplifies the mission of their cancer organization and Relay For Life. These survivors and caregivers inspire hope, courage, and determination in the fight to eliminate cancer, display a resilient attitude, and inspire others to choose a proactive and positive stance on cancer survivorship.

    The U.S. has a domestic program called Voices of Hope. Each year events across the nation can nominate survivors and caregivers (through a nomination process) to be Voices of Hope. This group of domestic Voices of Hope are eligible to be nominated as Global Heroes of Hope.

    As a Global Hero of Hope, John, Keisha, Kristi, and Michael will be asked to share their personal cancer story and champion the ACS’ important work for various speaking opportunities, including outside their states. Each one will also encourage others to actively participate in their local Relay For Life event. 

    We can all agree the voice of a volunteer brings so much credibility to our work. A Relay connection combined with their story will be a powerful advocacy tool that ensures we continue to make cancer a global conversation.


  • Survivors and caregivers are Voices of Hope

    They want to tell their story to help YOU!

    Voices of Hope is a nationwide network of more than 200 highly engaged survivors and caregivers who are selected and trained to tell their cancer story to advance the ACS mission. They are highly visible models of personal victory over cancer and symbolize the courageous struggles of all cancer patients and caregivers. 

    Through their stories, Voices of Hope offers inspiration to cancer survivors, caregivers, family, and friends, while encouraging involvement with the American Cancer Society’s fundraising events and other activities.

    Anywhere where an engaging cancer story can help your work, we can be there. Here are a few examples of what a Voice of Hope can do: 

    • Speak live and in-person at local events, such as during a luminaria ceremony, gala keynote, or Lobby Day.
    • Assist with sponsorship asks
    • Assist with recruitment asks or presentations
    • Speak live or pre-record videos for social media, tailored to the engagement needed
    • Provide photos and written stories for articles or print collateral
    • Assist with asks to lawmakers
    • Provide a personal “thank you” to sponsors and donors
    • And more!  

    Voices of Hope (formerly called Heroes of Hope) are great public speakers who have an engaging story to tell. Maybe it is a story about how they are a three-time breast cancer survivor whose life has been saved by a treatment funded by ACS, or how they lost their child to cancer and now fight for legislative changes in their memory, or how the Relay For Life community surrounded and lifted them up after a cancer diagnosis.  

    When Voices are selected, they are already engaged and experienced with the American Cancer Society. Once selected, they go through additional training on how to craft their story for different audiences, as well as make sure they are familiar with our mission and event programs.  

    You can get involved!

    • Help us find new Voices. Do you know a cancer survivor or caregiver who is a dynamite speaker with a great story to tell and active in the ACS community? Nominate them to be a Voice of Hope. Nominations are reviewed twice a year in January and July, followed by interviews, training, and induction into the program. We are especially looking for diverse Voices, Voices whose cancer story involves ACS in some way (stayed at a Hope Lodge, used Reach To Recovery, etc.), and Voices in some particular geographic regions, such as Michigan and Illinois.
    • Request a Voice of Hope. Let us know what you need and how we can help, and we will work together to get the perfect speaker for you. Even if we don’t have anyone in your immediate area, some of our Voices are willing to travel long distances and we are also available for remote and virtual engagements as well. 

    Visit us today at Connect.RelayForLife.org/VoicesofHope for more information, as well as the forms needed to nominate a Voice of Hope or request a Voice for your engagement.  

    Have questions? Feel free to reach out to Jennifer Braun on the United Event Support team, staff partner for the Voices of Hope program.


  • The Global Relay For Life Festival begins Friday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m. ET

    Registration is now open for the 24-hour virtual Relay For Life celebration.

    The American Cancer Society will host the Global Relay For Life Festival in the ACS Virtual Campus powered by Virbela from Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. ET) through Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. GMT (2 p.m. ET)Relayers from around the globe will unite to celebrate, remember, and fight back. 

    All volunteers are invited to register for the event at Global Relay For Life: Home. The American Cancer Society Campus will be open to all registered participants.

    We highly recommend you download the software and create your avatar prior to Nov. 12. Participants will receive instructions once registered for the event. 

    During the registration process, each participant will choose a country/organization. All funds raised by that individual and their team will go directly to that charity. There is no fundraising requirement to join the Global Relay For Life Festival, however all of our cancer fighting missions depend on funds raised! You can show support by seeking donations and selling luminaria that will be displayed during the Festival. 

    The Festival will be focused on leveraging the energy that comes from the global nature of this program allowing partners to wrap up 2021 and kickstart 2022.

    Activities will include live music, purchase and dedication of luminaria bags, survivorship activities, opportunities to meet others from around the Relay world, interactive tools and games, idea sharing, and lots of fun in this virtual platform. 

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