More than 500 campus and community members will stay up for 12 hours straight to honor and remember cancer victims in The University’s 11th year participating in Relay for Life.
Relay for Life is a program sponsored by the American Cancer Society that occurs across the world in various communities. The event was first developed in 1985 when Gordy Klatt, M.D., walked and ran for 24 hours straight in Tacoma, Wash. and raised $2,700 for cancer research. 340 participants joined him the next year, and the event has expanded and developed ever since. Relay for Life takes place in more than 5,200 communities and 20 countries. It is the signature fundraising event for the American Cancer Society. Every year Relay for Life raises more than $400 million every year for cancer research and services.
Every Relay event is different depending on the group or community that sponsors it; however, there are several aspects included in all Relay for Life events.
The event will kick off with the opening ceremony that welcomes the participants with remarks from senior Sarah Humbert, president of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC), and Dr. Cullen, an education professor and cancer survivor.
After the opening ceremony, the survivor lap will lecture cancer survivors circling the track to celebrate their victories over cancer. Then, there is a caregiver lap which those who have cared for cancer patients will circle the track. Finally, the opening lap invites all participants to circle the track to honor all cancer victims.
Next, the luminaria ceremony will take place. Candles will be lit to remember all those who lost their lives to cancer and those who are still battling. Following this, for the largest chunk of the evening, there will be individual walking and running around the track all night long while activities are offered on the sidelines to keep everyone energized. Some events in the past have included a frozen t-shirt contest, piggy back races and a performance by the Urban Beats Crew. During this time, teams will also present their required fundraising activities. Near the end of the event, the fight back ceremony will encourage Relayers to take a final lap and pledge to take action and spread awareness.
“There’s no finish until we find a cure,” Humbert said.
Some Relay events last up to 24 hours because, according to the American Cancer Society, cancer never sleeps. The University’s relay will last from 7 p.m. Friday night until 7 a.m. Saturday morning. Humbert describes the event being filled with energetic participants every year.
“It’s kind of like a big block party,” Humbert said.
For the event, students form teams and work individually to raise money. Humbert said that the money raised in the individual communities stays in those communities to help cancer victims locally. Every participant in Relay for Life has been touched by cancer in some way, whether they know someone with cancer, had it themselves or are currently fighting it.
“Cancer touches just about everyone,” Humbert said.
Humbert said the goal of the event is to educate the community on cancer-related issues, advocate for legislation and honor the nearly 14 million survivors worldwide, especially those on campus and in the community.
“[Relay is] a way for people to celebrate life, cope with the loss and really fight back,” Humbert said.
CAC is The University’s club that organizes the event. The group’s goal is to raise money for the American Cancer Society and raise awareness about cancer. CAC runs the relay every year as its biggest event on campus. The club was first formed at The University in 2007 as an extension of the American Cancer Society and has been planning the event every year since.
CAC has other events throughout the year to raise awareness about cancer, including Pink Week, the ovarian cancer Easter egg hunt and the Great American Smoke Out, just to name a few.
The group has approximately 200 active members who attend the biweekly meetings to plan and develop events for the campus community, including Relay for Life.
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