Relay for Life to Raise Money for Cancer Research

Jessica Valerie Rodriguez/Staff Writer

 Cancer, the heartbreaking reality that makes us feel powerless, the illness that traumatizes not only the people who suffer from it, but their loved ones as well.

FIU students are contributing to the fight against cancer by putting together their annual Relay for Life event on March 1 at 6 p.m.

Relay for Life has been in existence for nine years at the University and has raised thousands of dollars for the American Cancer Association.

People who have been affected by cancer and those who are just paying their respects, join forces to relay and reach a cancer free world. This year the committee’s goal is to raise $91,000 for cancer-related services.

        Relay for Life is an organization well known throughout the country and the world. There are 5,100 relay communities and more than 4 million people in over 20 countries participating in this inspirational fight against the life changing effects of cancer, according to

Twenty-six students make up the committee in charge of planning and coordinating the relay. Sofia Sanchez, a junior double majoring in public relations and marketing, is one of these students. Sanchez decided to join Relay for Life because she wanted to get involved while being a part of a philanthropy. She states the committee has been working extremely hard since fall and mentioned the theme, Disney, is the key to success.

“We believe the theme will make it easier for the teams to come up with creative ways to fundraise and hopefully it will make the event more enjoyable since it is overnight,” said Sanchez.

        Everyone’s reason to relay is unique. For freshman biology major Patricia Padron, it was her parents’ fight against cancer that drove her to become a Relay for Life delegate for the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority.

“I thought that being directly affected gives me a different view and appreciation. I wanted to help the organization while showing the victims that there is hope,” said Padron.

The memory of her father and the celebration of her mother’s survival has made her determined to “reach out, embrace reality and participate” for Relay for Life. Padron has set up a team that will compete to raise the most money through activities and other fundraisers.

Rebecca Reyes, a junior majoring in clinical psychology, has a different story. Reyes participated in last year’s event not because of a family member, but because of her manager’s father, who passed away due to cancer.

For Reyes it didn’t hit home as much, so her inspiration was drawn from the good times with her co-workers. “[I realized] it was about raising awareness and funds for those suffering from the incurable,” said Reyes. Her experience opened her eyes to a world where the small everyday problems didn’t matter.

        Aside from the upcoming relay, students were able to donate their hair at the “Look Good, Feel Better” event this past Monday, Feb. 18. Freshman biology major Heidi de Marchena was among the many that donated. She decided to donate because her sisters inspired her to. She describes the involvement as “an incredible experience.”

“It made me feel great giving my hair to someone who really needs it,” said de Marchena.

Whichever way you decide to help Relay for Life, you can find healing, comfort and sustenance from others who have faced cancer, or who have lost a loved one to this disease.