Gusties tell stories behind why they relay
Relay For Life is a fun-filled overnight event designed to celebrate survivorship and raise money for research and programs of your American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one member on the track at all times.
The Gustavus chapter of the American Cancer Society’s Colleges Against Cancer is part of a nationwide collaboration of college students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer by initiating and supporting programs of the American Cancer Society, such as the Relay for Life in college communities.
There will be many parts to the event, including a ‘survivors lap’ where survivors circle the track, a ‘luminaria ceremony’ where those who have fought or are fighting cancer are honored, and a ‘fight back’ ceremony where participants make a personal commitment to fight cancer.
Information taken from relayforlife.org. The Gustavus Relay for Life will happen on April 19-20 in the Lund Center. Visit relayforlife.org for more information.
The Relay for Life event this year has particular significance for the Gustavus Swim and Dive team due to the recent diagnosis of our friend and teammate, Grace Goblirsch, with leukemia at the end of 2012. With a team of 80+ members, it’s amazing to think that one member can have such an impact on the organization, but Grace is truly valued as so much more than a swimmer–she is our training partner, our classmate, and most importantly, our friend. Two of the popular mantras picked up by the team this season were “Race for Grace,” and “One Team, One Family.” It has always been a part of the Gustavus Swimming tradition to “swim to inspire,” and this season, that adage was particularly relevant in motivating us to give every race our best for Grace, the teammate who would give anything to be on deck competing with us. Grace may be down right now, but she’s certainly not out, and as her teammates, we plan on relaying this Friday to help Grace overcome her cancer, once and for all. My teammates and I are participating in the Relay for Life event this Friday because we can attest to Grace’s incredible strength and will, and we cannot wait for her to conquer this obstacle and come back to Gustavus. Grace is not alone in her battle against leukemia, she has 80+ close friends and teammates who have her back. We raced for Grace, and now we are ready to Relay for Grace, too. One team, one family.
Throughout my life, I have known many people who have been affected by cancer, either diagnosed themselves or through the diagnosis of a loved one. I have lost an aunt and cousin to cancer, but am able to also celebrate the lives saved by treatment. Along with all people affected by cancer, I am particularly relaying for my uncle John, who is currently battling lymphatic cancer. He is in the process of receiving chemo treatments every couple of weeks and is doing great. I relay to celebrate his progress and the goal of becoming cancer free! Relay For Life is such a powerful event because it involves all people. Whether it is a parent, sibling, grandparent, teacher, friend, etc., we are all impacted by the harsh effects of cancer. I relay for my family, my friends, and my future students. It’s time to celebrate more birthdays!
I first got involved in Relay back in middle school in my hometown of Minnetonka. I lost my mom to stomach cancer when I was ten, so I started up a team in memory of her with my friends. I did the Minnetonka Relay for 8 years and was consistently one of the top individual fundraisers and top fundraising teams. I found it was a great way to fight back against this disease and to honor my mom’s memory. I relay for her, and I am doing my best to make her proud. It still seems unfair that my mom was taken from me when I was so young, but I consider myself lucky to have gotten to spend ten wonderful years with the world’s best mom – she was my best friend and is my hero. I relay for my mom, but I also relay for my family and my family’s future. The cancer that took her life is hereditary, so sometime in the near future, my brothers and I will undergo genetic testing to find out if we have the gene mutation that puts us at a high risk of developing the same cancer. Having this knowledge is valuable because it allows us to be proactive about fighting the disease, but what would be even more valuable is finding a cure. I relay for hope of a future in which we no longer have to live in fear of losing our loved ones to this terrible disease.
I brought my relay passion with me to Gustavus, and as a first-year I joined the Colleges Against Cancer committee. My sophomore year I became Growth Chair of the committee and now, as a Junior, I am one of the Co-Presidents. Last year I was the top individual fundraiser of the event, and this year I am striving to reach my goal again! We are thrilled to see so many people getting excited about the event, and for some of the fun things that will be happening at relay, like the Chuck Norris Challenge, Mr. Relay, and the Dance Team Guy/Girl performance. There are so many Gusties who are involved in lots of different groups on campus, but at Relay everyone comes together for a common cause: to fight back against cancer and find a cure. Whether we are relaying for a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a relative, a friend, a coach, a teacher … everyone has their own personal reason for relaying, but we have all been affected by cancer in one way or another.
My whiteboard said, “I relay for my grandpa.” Growing up, my grandpa was the father figure in my life. I looked up to him for so much; he was my teacher, hero, and my best friend. My grandpa was the person I wanted to walk me down the aisle when I got married someday. He had surgery when I was little to have the cancer in his colon removed, but it came back later when I was in about 5th grade—that’s when I remember first starting to go to my community’s Relay for Life and joining a relay team with some of my family. (I have many other family members who have or have died from cancer, so I walk for them too). When my grandpa finally lost his battle with cancer my freshman year of high school, it absolutely killed me. I walk in memory of him, and so other children might someday be able to grow up with their grandpa or grandma—so they don’t have to go through what I went through.
This year I decided to join Colleges Against Cancer and Relay for Life mainly because of two of my role models, Geoff Arenson and Bill Fennert. Geoff was my youth group leader in middle school and high school and was like a brother to me and I found out that he had cancer my freshman year here at GAC. Bill was recently diagnosed with cancer within this last year, and it really hit my family hard. Luckily, my friend Hallee was involved with Colleges Against Cancer, and it made me think that I could make in impact in Geoff and Bill’s lives by relaying for them this year. I am so excited to be a part of the Relay for Life committee and Relay for Life this Friday, and I encourage everyone at GAC to come and relay with us!