Relay For Life 2015: Walking for a cause
Senior Melanie Daue is no stranger to cancer. Her mother is a three-time endometrial cancer survivor. This December, she lost an uncle to cancer. And just an hour before Saturday’s Relay For Life event at Newark High School, she received a call with news of a friend’s diagnosis.
Daue’s anecdotes undoubtedly resonate with the over 600 participants who also braved the chilly, windy weather to take part in Relay For Life, an overnight community walk that raises funds and awareness for cancer.
Daue, the senior director of Relay For Life at the university, says cancer’s toll on her friends and loved ones serves as a “constant reminder” of the importance of such events.
“Everyone goes through so many things, and this event allows people to see how cancer touches everyone’s life in some way,” she says.
The event kicked off at 5:30 p.m. with a ceremony, during which Chris Clement, a university systems programmer, gave opening remarks.
“Tonight we’re taking a stand against cancer,” Clement said. “The money you’ve raised is essential to helping the American Cancer Society fulfill its mission of research, education, advocacy and service for cancer patients and their families.”
Collectively, more than 40 teams raised over $41,000.
Following the opening ceremony, cancer survivors and caregivers were encouraged to take part in a “Survivors Lap” around the track, meant to celebrate victory over cancer as well as the caregivers’ love, support and selflessness.
Attendees took part in a wide range of lighthearted events—a lip-sync battle, a Chipotle burrito-eating contest, a glow-stick dance party—as well as a poignant “Luminaria Ceremony,” in which lit candles in personalized bags are placed around the track. The candles are glowing tributes to those who have battled cancer in the past, as well as to those whose fight continues today.
“Tonight, your walk symbolizes this fight against cancer,” Clement said. “[…] Together you’ll walk into the darkness, because the battle against cancer is long and has some dark moments. You’ll see the light in the darkness in the Luminaria lap, and you’ll keep walking and keep fighting.”
Senior Christen Lassig, secretary of the board for the nationwide organization Colleges Against Cancer, also attributes her involvement to her own loss of loved ones.
“[There are] way too many people [who] should be in my life [who] have passed away from cancer,” Lassig says. “It just feels really good to take part in events like Relay For Life, because it allows you the opportunity to help others.”