2023 Relay For Life raises $40,000 for the American Cancer Society

The Relay for Life committee anxiously waits to reveal the total raised | Iara Raggio Phi Mu

Emily Martinez | Contributing Writer

FIU hosted Relay for Life to honor people impacted by cancer on March 10 at the Modesto Maidique Campus, with several student organizations collaborating to raise $40,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Greek organizations, academic fraternities, and even FIU Athletics all participated in the relay, music, serving food and hosting fundraisers at different tents outside the Ryder Business Building. 

The night was filled with fun and laughter, as well as time to seriously honor cancer survivors and victims. 

Survivorship chair, Joshua Campos, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice said that he was deeply and personally impacted by his role in planning and organizing the event. 

“Being survivorship chair, I had the opportunity to reach out and talk to those who have had cancer, and thankfully survived,” said Campos. “I enjoyed this position as it opened my eyes to a whole new world; it showed me the importance and significance of how Relay impacts the community.”

To celebrate and bring the community together, this event included delicious foods, 360 photo booths, and a live DJ.

Relay for Life members pose for a photo | Amparo Velasquez FIU Relay for Life

Participants running booths, FIU Dazzlers performing, and lined up luminarias | Shawn Cameron FIU Relay for Life

For Teams Retention Chair Amparo Velasquez, a junior studying political science, Relay for Life was a way to make a difference in the community while connecting with fellow students. 

“I loved being able to help an organization that battles a cause that affects so many people, and I loved that I was able to do it with my friends as well as making new friends along the way,” said Velasquez.

Besides visiting booths, guests could enjoy entertainment such as FIU alumni singer and guitarist, Alan Macaulay and Austin Rodriguez, and listen to inspirational speeches from past FIU Relay members. 

Past Relay Director, , gives an inspirational speech  | Shawn Cameron FIU Relay for Life

An essential part of this event is the section sponsored by Beautiful Lengths, a company that donates hair to individuals who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. 

Participants could volunteer to cut six inches of their hair off to donate to Beautiful Lengths’ cause, and shave their heads in solidarity. 

Committee members measure the length of donators hair | Amparo Velasquez FIU Relay for Life

Students cut participants’ hair | Emily Chouza Phi Mu

As the night went on, a highlight of the event began: the Luminaria ceremony. 

Hundreds of Luminarias, decorated bags, surrounding the path that all participants walk are lit, each one dedicated to a loved one lost to, battling, or has overcome cancer. 

One of the many Luminarias dedicated to a loved one | Emily Chouza Phi Mu

The Luminaria chair, Shawn Cameron, a Junior majoring in natural and applied sciences and psychology said that even more than being a beautiful symbol, the ceremony has deep meaning for participants.

“The luminaria ceremony is often considered the most touching aspect of Relay, as it is representative of finding light in the feeling of loss we all know too well.” 

Participants walking the path of luminarias | Shawn Cameron FIU Relay for Life

“Whether you’re walking the track lit with luminarias with friends, family, or strangers, we all share the same sentiment: We remember those lost with the light and hope for a future not poisoned by cancer.”

Relay for life this year was a successful event, with over $40,000 being raised in total in a celebration of life, endurance, and hope.

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