Gusties on track to fight cancer

Relay for Life is coming to Lund Arena this Saturday night, in which participants from across the Gustavus community will unite to support people touched by cancer, raise money for the American Cancer Society and have fun. The event will begin at 7:00 p.m. and conclude at 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning. Anyone is welcome to attend.

“You don’t have to be registered. You can show up and listen to the speakers or walk around the track,” Colleges Against Cancer Co-President and Senior Geography Major Samantha Rother said.

The night will be filled with numerous ceremonies that help illustrate the process of living with cancer.

“At 7:00 p.m. we are having our Celebrate Ceremony. It will be a welcome for everyone, and it’s meant to honor cancer survivors. [Senior Health Fitness Major] Janey Helland is a melanoma survivor [and] will be the keynote speaker. After that ceremony, we will start with the opening lap,” Rother said. “At 9:30 p.m., we will have our Remember Ceremony. We’ll light our luminaries, which are bags that we sell to honor or remember people with cancer. At 6:30 a.m. will be our Fight Back Ceremony where we will give totals for how much our event has raised.”

While much of Relay for Life is meant to honor those touched by cancer, the event will also feature a number of fun activities meant to keep participants engaged.

“There [are] all sorts of bands throughout the night, so there’s never a lull in excitement.There’s [also] free pizza in the middle of the night. We’ll have coffee to keep people motivated to stay,” College Against Cancer Growth Co-Chair and Junior Psychology Major Danika Anastasi said.

Relay will also feature the “Chuck Norris Challenge” from Patrick’s on Third.

“Eight people will be able to participate in that. It’s this massive burger. It has two-grilled cheese, two half pound patties [and] eight pieces of bacon. There’s a pound-and-a-half of sides. Your challenge is to eat it within an hour,” Anastasi said.

“Somebody finished last year. People get really excited about trying to do it,” Colleges Against Cancer member and Senior Biology Major Heather Duncanson said.

The event will also feature food and entertainment from campus groups.

“We want to incorporate as many organizations to get as many people involved as possible. Habitat For Humanity is coming and doing a hammer relay. The Chemistry Club is going to be making nitrogen ice cream like they have in the past. We have smoothies from the Pre-Health Club,” Duncanson said.

Another new fundraising piece will give participants the opportunity to share their music tastes with everyone at the event.

“If you don’t like the song that’s playing, you can change it for a dollar. You can also request one you’d like to hear for 50 cents,” Duncanson said.

Many participants are drawn to participate in Relay for Life because they have family or friends with cancer.

“Most people have been impacted by cancer in some way, whether it has been in their immediate family, or even just a friend’s parent, pretty much everyone has been touched by cancer,” Rother said.

“My sorority [Delta Phi Omega] does a breast cancer benefit every year, and our speaker for the past four years passed away this past year from breast cancer. This year we have four different Delta teams, and we are all honoring her through Relay,” Anastasi said.

“In 10th grade, my grandfather passed away from cancer, and then my grandmother a couple of years later. From then on, it has been an inspiration and a passion of mine to raise money for the cause,” Duncanson said.

“When I was younger, my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer. I spent a good amount of my childhood at the Mayo Clinic with her. We got involved with the American Cancer Society and have been [participating in Relay] ever since. [Cancer] has taken too much,” Rother said.

Even students without close ties to cancer recognize its significance.

“Cancer is a serious thing,” Senior Math and Secondary Education Major Andrew Bryz-Gornia said.

To help further cancer research, the night serves as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “Right now, we have 47 teams and $17,700 raised. This isn’t even close to what we’ll bring in. I think it’s about $40,000,” Duncanson said.

Participants work hard to bring in donations for their teams. “I hand-write a letter to friends and family, and they send donations back,” Duncanson said.

“There’s also fundraising that goes on the night of [Relay]. Different teams will be doing different things to raise money. If you’re coming and not on a team, we encourage you to bring coin change so you can participate in fundraising [that] night,” Anastasi said.

“We’re doing quarters around the track. Everyone brings one quarter and they put it by their favorite luminary bag. We see how much money we raise by each person bringing one quarter,” Duncanson said.

Anastasi encourages students to come take part in Relay. “You can register up until the day before [Relay] online; otherwise the entire campus is welcome to attend and participate in the events.”