FIU, Relay for Life unite for fight against cancer

Kristen King / Contributing Writer

In a few short hours, FIU fundraised $115,003.73 in its joint effort with Relay for Life for the battle against cancer.

FIU joined this initiative for the 12th time this past Friday night to help those within the community who have and are going up against this disease.

From 6 p.m. on Friday night to 6 a.m. on Saturday morning, friends and families of those affected by cancer joined the student body and take part in the festivities meant to place a spotlight on cancer.

Taking place at the Ryder Business Loop, the event consisted of tents that were occupied by multiple clubs and organizations from both MMC and BBC. Among these tents were items and activities such as archery, dunk tanks and face painting that were used to fundraise for the cause.

Amanda Valbuena, decorations chair for Relay for Life, was extremely proud of the way FIU stepped up to be an advocate for the fight on cancer.

“I think it is important that FIU raises money and awareness for cancer because it brings a lot of closure for people sometimes. It’s a disease that affects almost everybody,” said Valbuena.

According to Valbuena, FIU sits in the top six partnerships for Relay for Life in the nation and has continued to fare strongly through each year.

Aside from the monetary efforts, there were two other ways that aided in bringing awareness during the weekend’s event.

Golden Touch Haircuts and Shaves, the barbershop found in the Graham Center, lent their services by providing haircuts to those willing to donate hair for wigs for cancer patients.

Men and women left with either shaved heads or hair eight inches shorter. The hair cutting lasted throughout the night with more people finding the courage to give up something they loved for someone else in need.

Natalia Quintero-Riestra, a member of Alpha Psi Omega, said that she wouldn’t have done something as daring as cutting off her hair in the past.

“I donated my hair tonight and I normally wouldn’t do that, but because it’s for Relay for Life I had no problem whatsoever,” Quintero-Riestra said. “It helps people and that’s what I love doing.”

Close to 10:45 p.m., the tents were told to cease all activity in preparation for the Luminaria Ceremony. The lights were dimmed, the music stopped playing and the members of the Relay for Life board began placing lights in each luminaria.

On every luminaria were names and decorations that represented cancer survivors and those who have lost their lives to cancer.

Over hundreds of luminarias circled around the loop, with at least two people standing in front of each one.

On the main stage, a moment of silence was requested and the once upbeat crowd soon fell quiet in remembrance of those fallen and in respect of surviving cancer patients.   

Some people were crying. Some people were smiling.

The event came to a close on Saturday morning, but that didn’t mean that FIU’s efforts came to a halt. In fact, there were already talks concerning next year’s possible event from excited students.

Jackie Abru, an FIU student, said that he hopes FIU starts planning the event now.

“I love coming to events like this, especially since this one is so important to a lot of people. It makes everyone feel like they’re not alone in this process,” said Abru.

[Photo by Selene Basile/The Beacon]

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