Relay For Life to fundraise for American Cancer Society

Photo by Karl-Ludwig G. Poggemann, via flickr

Ariel Weinstein/Staff Writer

Millions of people around the world have been affected by cancer. Whether having been diagnosed with the disease or having to go through watching a family member or friend battle through it, there are too many people who have had to experience cancer in some way.

The University recognizes how serious of a disease cancer is, and how terrible the effects are.

That is why on Feb. 28, at 6 p.m. at the MMC Ryder Business loop, until 9 a.m. on Feb. 29, the University Relay For Life committee, will be hosting the 10th annual Relay for Life event.

The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. The branch at the University is composed of 40 members who planned this event for an entire year prior to the event date.

Relay for Life is a program where people make their own teams to create activities in individual tents, that fundraise for the American Cancer Society.

The program originated in Tacoma, Washington in 1985 by Dr. Gordy Klatt, who raised more than $27,000 after walking and running around a track for 24 hours.

Although walking is a part of the program, there also various other activities that take place during the event, all hoping to raise money and awareness of cancer.

This year, there will be activities such as bounce houses, obstacle courses, food and a movie playing in the lawn hosted by the Student Programming Council.

In addition to activities, there are also three major ceremonies in the event, each of which will signify a different aspect of cancer.

The first of the ceremonies will consist of what is called the Survivor Lap. During this time, survivors of cancer will walk the first lap around the track, as a symbol of their triumph in the fight against such a horrible obstacle in their life, and celebrate that they are alive today.

The second major ceremony that will take place at the event is the Beautiful Lengths Ceremony. This ceremony is where over 100 men and women will donate eight inches of their hair. Their hair then goes to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, where they will design wigs for cancer patients.

Kawi Gonzalez, a senior majoring in biology, is the program’s teams director. She explains how the final ceremony, perhaps one of the more emotional times of the night, will go on.

The Luminaria Ceremony takes place at night in the dark, to remember everyone who has been lost to cancer, and to pray for and honor those who are still battling the disease.

“Candles are lit inside of personalized bags and are placed around the track as glowing tributes to those who have been affected by cancer. Each year we have more than 1,000 luminaria bags!” Gonzalez explained.

In past years, more than 2,000 people have showed up to this event. This year, there is an expected 90 teams participating, 2,500 to 3,000 people, and a fundraising goal of $100,000. Within the past ten years, a grand total of over $600,000 has been raised through the University Relay for Life program.

Not only do people enjoy a fun night of activities while contributing to a great cause, but they also gain self-accomplishment, knowing that they helped people who needed them, and contributed to making their lives better.

Gonzalez explains that the event is important because “cancer affects everyone in one way or another. In the fight against cancer, silence is the last thing we need. We need to come together and make noise to finish the fight against cancer once and for all.”

If anyone is interested in making a team for Relay they can contact Kawi Gonzalez at 

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