Panthers come together for Relay for Life

FIU students come together to participate in the 'Relay for Life'. Photo by Zoe Chin/PantherNOW

Written by Zoe Chin/Sports Director

The university was filled with tears and hope for the ‘FIU Relay for Life’ event on Friday, March 1.

FIU Relay for Life fundraised $111,795.34, which will be donated to the American Cancer Society.

The event started at 6 p.m. and went up until 12 a.m.

Students and community came together for a one night event to remember those who died, celebrate those who survive, and welcome hope for a cure.

White paper bags called ‘luminarias’ with messages written on them or a name to remember lined up the the traffic loop in front of the Modesto A. Maidique Ryder Business Building. Each bag was illuminated by a light so that they shine brightly during the night.

The event, themed “Around the World,” brought together survivors, supporters and caregivers to celebrate life and hope.

Money was fundraised through the FIU Relay for Life website.

Stalls at the event also fundraised money for the American Cancer Society through interactive activities.

This included photo booths, playing Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch, face painting, and a dog kissing booth.

During the event, sororities and fraternities sold food for the event, speeches from cancer survivors, and there was a walk of silence for 2014 FIU Relay for Life Executive Director Jennifer Cordero, who passed away in 2017.

The ambassador of the event, Diana Cristancho, has experienced both loss and life in her personal life.

The freshman didn’t intend on running for the position, but was encouraged by her sorority sisters from Alpha Omicron Pi.

“At first, it started as my sisters pushing me to do something, that I have never done before and being there for me,” said Cristancho. “But then it turned into something more.”

Despite not knowing anything about Relay for Life before becoming ambassador, she found herself becoming more connected with the event.

She connected with the event on a personal level as her mother is a breast cancer survivor.

“I’ve learned so much about how beautiful Relay for Life is and [I’ve] learned so much about the American Cancer Society,” said Cristancho.

This is the perfect way to help people who don’t have people who support them throughout the process when they have cancer, according to Cristancho.

Being able to be an ambassador for the “FIU Relay for Life” had a significant effect on her.

“My mom is my rock,” said Cristancho. “I look up to her so much and this is such a great way to have that part of her that is so strong and to be there for other people.”

The Ryder Business loop at the Modesto A. Maidique campus was filled with survivors, caregivers, students and a community with a common goal.

Inside of the laughter, the music, food and the doggy kisses, there was hope and remembrance.

To remember those who were lost, a lap of silence was taken, not just for Cordero, but for all of those who died from cancer.

For that one lap around the loop, not a word was spoken and no music was played.

The lap was led by Cordero’s family and friends. She was the executive director for the FIU Relay for Life in 2014. During that time, she broke the three year  $100,000 goal by fundraising $115, 553.44.

Cordero was diagnosed at 13 with a rare form of cancer in the thymus gland called thymoma.

She was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon during her time at FIU. There she met found friends and love that supported her throughout her treatment.

Despite dying to cancer, Cordero is still remembered at FIU Relay for Life by both friend, family and  members of the organization.

After the lap was completed, the music started again. But among the sound were tears and comfort.

Participants were also given the opportunity to donate their hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths.

The donated hair will be turned into wigs and given to women affected by cancer.

Featured image by Zoe Chin/PantherNOW

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