Bennington's Relay for Life Event is this Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 6 p.m. The night-long event will be held at the Mt. Anthony Union High School track.

Have you ever wondered what the hype is all about with the Relay for Life? The Relay for Life is a huge fund-raising event. It brings together so many people who are there because cancer has touched their lives in one way or another. It is one way that people show their support in the fight against cancer.

This event is held overnight. The object is to have one member on the team always on the track walking at all times. Why overnight? There is strong symbolism in this. Cancer does not sleep, so neither do we.

Relay for Life is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society (ACS). ACS raises funds for a variety of things that helps in the fight against cancer. It also supports those who have been diagnosed with the disease. The money that is donated goes to fund cancer research. In fact, nearly one million dollars has been invested in cancer research in just Vermont institutions. Since 1946, there has been a total investment in cancer research approaching nine million dollars.

Our patients in our own Cancer Center here at SVMC have benefited and continue to benefit from the programs that are supported by the ACS. There are programs that donate wigs to our patients, provide workshops on coping with appearance changes (Look good Feel Better), those that provide transportation for patients to and from their cancer treatment (Road to Recovery), and also a support group (Man to Man: a group that supports men with prostate cancer).

The Relay for Life raises money by members signing up to walk the track at MAUHS and getting sponsorships from family and friends who make donations in that person's name. It is also supported by the surrounding community with local business sponsorships. And we can not forget about the luminaria. Luminaries are bags that are lit up by candles and can be purchased by anyone honoring someone that has had cancer. It is truly beautiful to see them all surrounding the track at the Relay.

The Relay for Life is such a powerful event that shows a community coming together for something that has touched so many lives. It shows amazing support and camaraderie. There is joy, tears, laughter, sweat, and memories shared at every event.

Want to learn more? You can contact me at fosj@phin.org or Southwestern Vermont Medical Center's other team captain Erin Comar at come@phin.org or visit www.relayforlife.org. Jodi Harwood works at SVMC's Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center. "Health Matters" is a weekly column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public health matters, and public policy as it affects health care. To learn more about SVHC, visit svhealthcare.org or our Facebook page.