Starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26 and ending at 6 a.m. the next morning, Relay for Life gathered students, faculty, staff and community members together in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletics and Recreation Center to honor those who have fought cancer and to raise awareness and money to continue the struggle to fight a disease that touches so many lives.
Relay for Life is a fund-raiser for the American Cancer Society.
A “large portion” of the over $35, 500 raised during Relay for Life at St. Mary’s College “goes to help fund cancer research and programs in the area,” said sophomore Elise Valkanas, one of Relay for Life’s event co-chairs.
Throughout the night, participants continued to walk around the track that was marked out on the floor of the Recreational Courts; laps were also varied throughout Relay for Life, such as a Survivor lap, a Three-Legged lap, and the Egg on Spoon lap.
Groups of individuals banded together to fund-raise before the 12-hour overnight event.
Some of these groups were sports teams, clubs, or academic departments, while others were just groups of friends who came out together to show their support.
Before the official event started, these individuals raised money any way they wanted to and during the event the groups also raised money in variety of ways.
For example, early in the evening, Public Safety sponsored the event, “Jail and Bail with PS.”
Anyone at the event could pay the Public Safety fund-raising team two dollars to “arrest” someone at in the room; those who had been arrested had to wait 10 minutes to be released or pay a $1 “bail.”
Other events included the Miss Relay Pageant (with prizes to the best-dressed, prettiest male part), a Water Pong Tournament, and a Cornhole Tournament.
There were several speakers as well, such as Associate Dean of Students Joanne Goldwater, whose battle with cancer has been covered in previous issues of The Point News.
The “Psyched for Life” fund-raising team was also selling raffle tickets for 30 minute massages at different points during the night, as well as video games, and care cards in order to raise money.
Angela Draheim, Departmental Assistant in Psychology, was part of this group. She said she “rallied up our psychology department members and members of [her] family.”
“Cancer has really touched a lot of my family” Draheim said, “[this event] is a way for us to remember them and try to promote awareness for everyone else.”
Valkanas said over 320 people registered and many more came to the event; “We’re really pleased when people who don’t know much about the event come out.”
Another team came out and sold cake and cake balls to raise money. First-year Rachel Allen said Relay for Life was a “way to support other people.”
One of her teammates, first-year Sydney Coleman added, “one the girl’s stories made me tear up little bit.”
This 12-hour overnight event, which “signif[ies] that cancer doesn’t sleep,” said Valkanas, is being planned again for next February. “Our goal is to be bigger and better each year,” Valkanas said.
According to the Relay for Life website, the event was started in 1985 when a colorectal surgeon ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Since then the event has expanded and grown to include over 3.5 million participants across the country.
This Relay for Life at St. Mary’s College was the second time this event has been held, though last year, it was only a six hour event.
The R.F.L. Website said, “Relay … creates a sense of community by bringing people together in a moving and fun atmosphere, with sufficient time for cultivating relationships.
With every step you take, you are helping the American Cancer Society save lives. With your help, we aren’t just fighting one type of cancer – we’re fighting for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community.
Each person who shares the Relay experience can take pride in knowing that they are working to create a world where this disease will no longer threaten the lives of our loved ones or claim another year of anyone’s life.”