By Sarah Frazer || Contributing Writer
This past Friday F&M’s Colleges Against Cancer club (CAC) hosted F&M’s 10th annual Relay for Life in the ASFC. The purpose of the event, which ran from 6:00 pm to 12:00 am Saturday morning, was to raise money for cancer research. The message: everyone has been affected by cancer; everyone knows at least one person or multiple persons who have had cancer. It is a disease that takes millions of lives every year, and we all must be united and committed to finding a cure.
The activities during Relay for Life included the opening ceremony at 6:30 pm, during which everyone was welcomed and reminded of the origin of Relay. In 1985, Dr. Gordy Klatt ran a track by himself for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society (ACS). Thus, the Relay for Life movement began. Co-Presidents of CAC spoke, explaining the purpose of Relay for Life and informing guests of cancer statistics. Some of the things the ACS does includes lobbying lawmakers, providing aid to people currently undergoing treatment, and working to make medicine more affordable, in addition to funding cancer research.
Next on the agenda was the Survivorship ceremony, which consisted of an address from Sam Graffman, a survivor who relays frequently, and a survivorship lap to honor cancer survivors and caregivers. During the evening, people played games, walked around the track, listened to music, and enjoyed the bouncy house obstacle course.
CAC Co-President, Christa Rodriguez, explained the purpose of Relay in greater detail and what it means to her. “Relay for Life’s ultimate goal is to make it so we don’t have to have any Relay for Life events ever again because cancer will be a thing of the past. I am a survivor and I think that no one should have to go through the loss of family members or friends ever. I think it’s really important that people come together to try to eradicate this disease.”
At 9:00 pm, attendees participated in the Luminaria ceremony. During this ceremony, everyone held a tea light and listened to a moving speech from Rebecca Theriaque. Theriaque wears many hats at the ACS, including being the Community Development Manager. She has been a volunteer for ten years with the Look Good, Feel Better program and a legislative ambassador with the ACS’s Action Network. Having been diagnosed with terminal cancer herself and having lost both parents to cancer, Theriaque understands as much as anyone the terrible impact cancer can have. At the same time, she remains dedicated to helping others whose lives have been affected by cancer. After Theriaque spoke, everyone walked a silent lap around the track, which was lined with luminaries with tea lights in them, in remembrance of those who have lost their lives and those who have survived cancer.
Following the Luminaria ceremony were performances by Sweet Ophelia at 10:00 pm and the Poor Richards at 11:00 pm. In between, students got haircuts to donate their locks to cancer patients who have lost their hair. About ten students donated their hair, each giving at least eight inches.
In total, Relay for Life raised approximately $10,000.00 for cancer research. In addition, the event raised awareness in the F&M community about cancer and provided an opportunity for people to come together to focus on fighting the disease in the hope of someday eradicating it from our society.
If you would like to donate to ACS or another cancer charity, you can go to the American Cancer Society’s website or contact someone in Colleges Against Cancer.
Junior Sarah Frazer is a contributing writer. Her email is email@example.com.