By Josephine Lee–
There is probably nothing more moving than seeing over 600 participants start the first lap in Relay for Life. Relay for Life took place for 12 hours, starting at 7 p.m., on Friday, April 13 on the Lutz Hall lawn. The theme of the event was appropriately titled Scaring Away Cancer, since the event fell on the superstitious date of Friday the 13th. Relay for Life executive board members encouraged teams to incorporate this theme into their campsite decorations and also included various relay games and competitions that pertained to the theme.
Men’s soccer coach Ken Lolla gave the opening speech that preceded the ceremonial Survivors Lap. Lolla compared the first diagnosis of cancer to a completely dark campus and importance of channeling positive energy in order to help fight back against cancer.
“In the midst of all that panic, that fear, that distress, when all the light suddenly disappears and nothing is visible, if someone brings out a small LED light, just bright enough so we can begin to see each other again…we wouldn’t be as confused, we wouldn’t be as disorientated, we wouldn’t be as scared. A little bit of life diminishes a lot of anger and a lot of fear when we’re dealing with darkness,“ said Lolla.
Thirteen cancer survivors were in attendance, as well as many more “virtual survivors,” who were honored with pictures at every campsite. Cancer survivors and caregivers walk the first lap of the evening in order to celebrate the lives of those still with us and to honors those who have passed on.
The second ceremonial lap was the Luminaria ceremony, which takes place after dark. This ceremony is in remembrance of those who have lost their battles with cancer. White bags are lit with candles and stay lit the rest of the night to remind relay participants of their purpose at the event. Participants walk the track together with the unifying all.
Sophomore Maggie Ising gave the Luminaria ceremony speech and explained why she relays.
“I’m relaying for my parents and my other family members, because they no longer have this opportunity. This is our chance to fight back and show cancer who’s boss,” said Ising.
The final ceremonial lap is the Fight Back ceremony, which is held at the end of Relay events. The final lap is symbolic of a cancer patient fighting back against cancer since Relay participants are often exhausted toward the end of the event, but still continuing on toward the end.
Between the ceremonial laps, there were various activities to keep participants involved. Each campsite sold an item to go toward their fundraising goal. Some campsites also sponsored a spotlight activity. Spotlight activities were competitive events that were done at certain times throughout the night that were meant to bring individuals from different campsites together.
Together, the participants in Relay for Life were able to raise over $40,000, the record amount in school history. This money will go directly to the American Cancer Society, but the experience taken away from this relay will bring more hope to those fighting cancer.