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Cancer Society's Virtual 'Relay for Life' Begins Friday

'Second Life' fund-raiser mirrors real-world relay race, organizers say

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FRIDAY, July 27, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- On July 27 and 28, almost 2,500 people will gather online in the world of Second Life and run a virtual relay race to raise money for cancer research.

The third annual virtual "Relay for Life" marks the grand opening of the American Cancer Society's (ACS) virtual headquarters in the Second Life community, which is a co-sponsor of the relay.

Second Life is a project of Linden Laboratories. Millions of people around the globe participate in the online community, which mimics many real-world institutions and relationships such as businesses and recreational activities. The third annual virtual "Relay for Life" will mark the opening of the ACS's virtual headquarters in Second Life.

Volunteer organizers in the online virtual world of Second Life raised almost $90,000 this year, exceeding their goal of $75,000, the ACS said.

This year's event, supported by the ACS's Futuring and Innovation Center, is expected to attract almost 2,500 participants from around the world.

The virtual "Relay for Life" began when volunteers in the Second Life community proposed a virtual event. In 2006, the event raised more than $41,000 and attracted more than 1,100 participants to a track that included real-world representations of New York City, Paris, Mexico, Sweden and South Africa. People can participate in the event by way of avatars, which are virtual representations of people in the real world. The avatars will gather in a virtual 512-acre park to donate money and walk on a custom-built track.

"The Second Life community continues to show unwavering support, dedication and inexhaustible creativity as we draw close to another record breaking event," Randal Moss, ACS's manager of futuring and innovation-based strategies, said in a prepared statement.

Action adventure movies are the inspiration for the games, scenes and activities for participants in this year's relay, as part of the event's theme, "Quest for a Cure."

The new virtual building, which opened June 1, is designed to provide the same cancer information and services to people in the virtual world as the organization provides in the real world. The building includes presentation and meeting rooms for cancer education sessions and fund-raising meetings, and will soon feature a staffed link to the group's National Cancer Information Center. The headquarters also features green space and gardens to showcase user-created art that expresses the personal fight against cancer.

"Already, we have existing peer-to-peer Second Life cancer support groups coming to us to use the facility and our resources. We are certain that, going forward, the community will find untold uses for our office space in terms of education, advocacy, fund raising and community support," said Moss.

"Relay for Life" is an overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money to support the cancer society's fight against the disease. Teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds or parks and take turns walking or running laps while trying to keep at least one team member on the track at all times. "Relay for Life" events, which are held in more than 4,800 communities in the United States and in 19 countries, have raised more than $2 billion to help the ACS accelerate the fight against cancer.

More information

To learn more about the "Relay for Life," go to the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE: American Cancer Society, news release, July 26, 2007


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