Relay for Life fundraiser sparks student awareness

On Friday, over 300 College students gathered, raising over $19,000 at the Relay for Life event. The Relay, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, was held on Friday, April 10 starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m. the following morning.

Throughout the night, student groups such as Blue Lights and the Hipnotik Dance team performed in the center of the track at Harold Alfond Athletic Center, where the event took place. “Relay for Life is not only for those going through cancer treatment, but also to celebrate those who have been cured or are in remission, as well as remembering those we’ve lost to the horrible disease,” Sydney Abrams ’17, a key organizer for the event, said.

The Luminaria ceremony serves to remember those who have passed on due to cancer. “This is a moving ceremony in which names are written on paper bags for those we’ve lost to cancer and displayed around the track with little lights in them. It is a time for quiet remembrance as people walk around the track with the lights off, reading all of the names of loved ones who have died from cancer,” Abrams said. All students were welcomed to decorate a paper bag regardless of whether or not they planned to attend the event.

Margaret Giles ’18, who participated in the event with the rest of her Outdoor Track team, was inspired by “how the community came together to support a great cause.”

Some students participated as a way to support a cause, but for many, such as Abrams, their motivation was more personal. “My dad passed away from thyroid cancer on June 15, 2014…He was involved in local community work once he retired from his professional career. Like him, I want to continue that legacy to make a difference in the world, so Relay is the perfect way to do that by raising awareness about cancer and helping cancer patients,” she said.

She continued,“my dad lived with cancer for almost ten years, undergoing many surgeries, chemotherapies, including clinical trials, and external beam radiation. He showed everyone who [he] knew that having cancer was not a death sentence, but rather a reason to live life even better and more fully. I’ve never been more inspired by one person. During the last week of his life (when he wasn’t sedated…) he had his thumbs up and a smile on his face even though he was on a breathing machine and couldn’t really communicate. He never failed to be positive, even at such low points.”

The first lap in Relay is for survivors, aptly named the Survivor’s Lap. There is an additional Caregiver’s Lap honoring those who have cared for someone with cancer. Caregivers often walk with those for whom they have cared if the individual is in attendance.

Although participants are encouraged to walk for as long as possible, there is no pressure to walk the entire night. In addition, participants have the opportunity to take a break, make bracelets and have their pictures taken during the event. The Gift of Life club was also in attendance swabbing cheeks for a bone marrow registry.

Regarding what drives her to work so hard on the events, Abrams said, “if I can prevent one girl from losing her dad—her hero—to cancer, then it’s all worth it.”

Comments are closed.