Cancer never sleeps, so the fight against it shouldn't either. Here at the University at Buffalo, students will congregate to battle against cancer at Relay For Life.
In 1985, Dr. Gotdy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown into something that more than 3.5 million people attend; it is the world's largest movement to end the disease.
The American Cancer Society is a nationwide, community-based voluntary health organization. Stationed in Atlanta, Georgia, there are 12 chartered divisions and more than 900 local offices. More than 5,100 communities are involved with the ACS.
According to its website, "the ACS saves lives and creates a world with less cancer and more birthdays by helping people stay well, helping people get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back."
Each year in Alumni Arena on North Campus, different organizations form teams for the Relay. This year, the event will take place from March 26-27. The schedule is still under construction; however, the tentative schedule states that at 6 p.m. there will be opening ceremonies and the survivor's lap. At 10 p.m. there will be a luminaria ceremony, where participants gather and remember those that have fallen to cancer, and at 6 a.m. there is a fight back, followed by the closing ceremonies.
A $10 fee is required for registration in advance and a $20 fee if one registers at the door. Donations can be made at the door and upon registering on the Internet. Luminarias, which are bags that are decorated in remembrance of someone who lost his or her battle against cancer or are used to symbolize and honor someone who survived, are sold for $5.
Luminarias are lined up in the center of the gym in the shape of a track, and participants can walk through the luminarias to see the other booths and to partake in the other teams' activities. All of the proceeds go to ACS.
The theme for this year's Relay is "One World Against Cancer!" Due to the fact that cancer is a worldwide issue and it affects every corner of our globe, each team will choose a different country to symbolize. There are approximately 150 teams currently registered for the Relay, and each team will create games and fundraising activities, which relate to its country.
There must be a member from each team on the track at all times throughout the night. The gym is always filled with people either making their lap around the track, playing games at other stations in order to help raise money, and/or speaking with survivors.
According to Emma Starkman, a junior business major and a captain for the past two years of the team titled Alpha Phi, thinking of creative ways to fundraise money was the most difficult part of the entire process. Her team ended up raffling off perfumes and setting up a water pong tournament, which costed $1 to play.
Although coming up with a plan to raise money was difficult, Alpha Phi raised around $500 for the ACS, as well as winning an award for being the first team to register. They started raising money several months before the Relay took place and are looking forward to raising even more this year.
"Relay For Life is such an inspiring event. I didn't hear about it before I came to UB," said Rebecca Phelan, a senior international business and world trade major. "When my sorority told me about it freshman year, I didn't realize how incredible it would be. This is going to be my third year going to the Relay, and I hope to continue attending the Relay after I graduate."
Each Relay is different; however, there are some traditional aspects that occur no matter where you are. The three most important aspects of every Relay are to celebrate, remember, and fight back.
The Relay always begins with a Survivors Lap. Every survivor is invited to circle the track together in order to celebrate the victory in the war against cancer. Once the sun goes down, there is a luminaria ceremony, where people can discuss how they felt when they lost a loved one to cancer, and everyone takes a moment to remember all of those who were lost to the disease. Finally, the fight-back portion of the night consists of each participant making a personal promise to be committed to the fight against cancer.
Phi Sigma Sigma also took a stand against cancer. The members of the philanthropy committee were the team captains, and they worked hard to create a fun table with tattoos and face painting in order to make money, according to Amanda Katz, the current president of Phi Sigma Sigma and a business major.
"Dance teams put on shows, everyone watches a slideshow commemorating all those who lost the fight to cancer, and there are some relaxation activities," Katz said. "It's a celebration for every survivor as well."
Teams are hoping that this year's Relay is better than last year's. Everyone has already begun fundraising and working hard, and teams are filling up quickly. UB's ultimate fight against cancer will be held from March 26-27, when students will get together under one world, in order to raise money and help find a cure.
For further information about the Relay, e-mail Stacie.email@example.com.