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John Carroll’s Relay for Life fights for more birthdays

April 25th, 2013

Last Saturday, April 20, John Carroll University hosted its seventh annual Relay for Life. The 12-hour event focused on raising money for cancer research and increasing awareness about the disease and what can be done to defeat it.

This year, Relay was held in the Varsity Gym due to inclement weather that forced the event inside. Forty-seven teams were formed in support of the cause, and 526 registered participants took part in the event. $28,255.53 was raised for the American Cancer Society by the end of the event.

Spencer German, co-student coordinator of Relay, said, “Our overall goal was $30,000, so we fell a little over $1,600 short. But the money goes to the American Cancer Society and obviously a great cause is cancer research and prevention.”

According to the American Cancer Society, every year over four million people are involved in Relay for Life events in more than 20 countries all over the world. Each event focuses on raising money for research about cancer and showing support for those who have fought battles with cancer.

Each Relay is different, but there are three special ceremonies that occur at every event, regardless of who is hosting the Relay.

The event begins with the “Celebrate” ceremony. During this part of the event, cancer survivors take a special lap around the event while being cheered on by all participants. During this time, any caregivers who have dedicated their love, support, time and effort to help people fighting cancer also take a lap to be celebrated.

The second is the Luminaria Ceremony. This occurs after dark and memorializes those who lost a fight with cancer, honors those who fought cancer in the past and shows support for those still fighting cancer. Personalized bags are made for each person who was lost to cancer, beat cancer or is still fighting cancer.

Junior Maura Stewart, the recruitment and publicity chair for JCU’s Relay, said that the Luminaria Ceremony was the most successful part of the event.

“It was great to see our hard work finally pay off. That’s what the event is all about in my eyes: honoring your loved ones who have lost their battles to cancer,” she said.

Relay for Life concludes with the “Fight Back” ceremony. This part of the event encourages everyone to continue the fight against cancer and move towards the goal of curing it.

Senior Megan Lowes said, “I was part of the [Christian Life Communities] table. My favorite event was the group that did the state of West Virginia. They had a creative game where a person paid a dollar to bounce one of two balls and have it land into one of several bras that were stapled to a wood board. If the ball went in, you won a little bear with a purple ribbon on it. It was a lot of fun to play and it kept me coming back.”

Junior Chelsea Neubecker said, “I think the best table I saw was the Dance Team table, because they were able to incorporate their passion for dance with their fundraising idea by having a Wii set up with Just Dance playing, so that Relay participants could challenge Dance Team members.”

Students are overwhelmingly supportive of JCU’s Relay for Life. “I think it’s important to have an event such as Relay for Life on campus because it brings JCU and the surrounding community together,” said junior Jessica Kruzer.

Neubecker said, “I definitely think Relay is an important part of campus life in the spring.  It’s a way for student organizations to unify and groups of friends to gather with one common goal: raising money for cancer research.”

Students agree that having Relay in the spring is a great opportunity for campus.

Kruzer said, “Although the springtime is really stressful for students with the end of the semester coming up fast and an increased workload, having Relay in the spring semester allows the Relay board and teams enough time for fundraising and planning a great event.”

German said, “I thought the event went very well. After spending the past two semesters planning and organizing things with [senior] Steph Fair, my co-student coordinator, and the entire leadership team, it was awesome to see it all come together for the big day and be such a success. The Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center was filled with people and I was excited to see such a good turn out.”