Relay for Life aims to raise money for cancer patients and survivors

Saif Sarfani, Campus Carrier Staff Reporter

Junior Maria Santos kicked off the 2015 Relay for Life campaign in an effort to raise awareness about cancer patients and survivors, and to generate funds for cancer research done by the American Cancer Society. This year, organizations will be fundraising with the general theme “Night at the Movies.” Each organization will use a different movie theme by dressing up like its characters and recreating scenes to meet their desired donation goal.

Performers, organizations and students will all come together on March 27, the main day for fundraising, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. at the Cage Center. There will also be a walk that will last the entire 12 hours. 

Santos, the leader of this year’s Relay campaign, has played a multi-purpose role in team recruitment, fundraising and entertainment.

                                                                                         Photo contributed by Zach Cleland
Kirstie Broadwell (14) and Amber Slyter (14) played a balloon game at Relay for Life in 2013. 

“There have been a ton of fundraisers,” Santos stated. “Each team has done at least one fundraiser and we (the Relay committee) have done like five.”

Santos also said the American Cancer Society has several other programs besides Relay. One includes a program in which volunteers drive cancer patients to get treated at no expense, and another called “Hope Lodge” in Atlanta.  According to the American Cancer Society website, Hope Lodge lets cancer patients reside in suites where they can receive support and treatment.

Sophomore Caroline Lee, co-chair of entertainment and logistics with sophomore Kelly Ibele, spoke about her role on the Relay committee, and also explained her motivation behind Relay.

“I think particularly this year I realized just how many people are affected by cancer, not necessarily like have cancer or have a sibling or parent who’s had cancer, but everyone is affected by cancer, and you don’t realize that until it kind of hits you, and it definitely hit me this year,” Lee said.

Lee uses social media to spread awareness.

“As far as fundraising goes, I’ve been spreading the word on Facebook, just sharing my page. I updated my page story on some background on my roommate and her mom,” said Lee. 

Sophomore Carmen Cook is Lee’s roommate. Cook’s  mother was diagnosed with glioblastoma last October, a cancerous tumor originating in the brain.

“She was given about one to three years of life left, so it’s been particularly hard on my roommate, and it’s been hard for me to deal with that,” Lee said. 

“I’ve been trying to raise a lot of money this year to do her justice just because they project this might be her last year,” Lee said.

 Lee also said there was a letter-writing campaign that asked friends and families to donate.

Freshman Zahra Ladiwala, a member of the Bring-The-People committee, said she found Relay to be “a really inspirational cause” that inspired her to help others who have gone through “traumatic” circumstances.

The committee is responsible for registering teams and preparing to collect donations at the main event.

“I hope (students) learn the importance of cancer awareness as well as fundraising for worthy causes like this one,” Santos said. “It has definitely made an impact, and we’re almost at our goal.”

At time of publication, 21 teams and 123 participants had raised over $8,800 for Berry’s Relay. According to the American Cancer Society, the Relay movement has raised over $5 billion nationwide since the first Relay in 1985.

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