Most students at Gustavus have battled cancer either personally or provided support for a family member or friend affected by the disease. The Gustavus Relay for Life event, scheduled for April 30, 2012 is a chance to celebrate and remember those who have battled cancer and an opportunity to raise money to fight the disease.
Relay for Life, affiliated with the American Cancer Society, is a nationwide event 3.5 million people participate in annually. It began in 1985 when Gordy Klatt made a 24-hour, 83-mile, walk/run around a track in Tacoma, Wash., raising 27,000 dollars. The Gustavus event is planned by the Colleges Against Cancer committee.
The basic format is an all night relay around a track with teams of 10-15 people. It begins with an opening ceremony and a survivor lap, where cancer survivors take the first lap of the relay. Next is a caregiver lap, which honors those who give care to cancer patients and finally the opening lap, where all participants take their first lap. The goal is to have one team member on the track the entire night. Throughout the night there is entertainment and shortly before the end of the event the total amount raised is announced.
“My favorite part of the event would have to be finding out how much money we have raised. This is announced right at the end, around 7:00 a.m.. It is so awesome to see who the top fundraisers are. I am always so impressed by how passionate they are,” Senior Kristin Olson, member of the Colleges Against Cancer committee and four-year Relay participant, said.
According to the Relay for Life website, Gustavus has 29 teams signed up to participate that have raised close to 4,300 dollars. Senior Ryan Hallsten, two-time cancer survivor and a captain of the Men’s Tennis Relay Team, says that although the event is a celebration, the fund raising is a vital part.
“It is imperative to support the fundraiser because cancer is one of the leading causes of death, not only in the U.S. but in the world, for children and adults. It doesn’t only affect people with unhealthy habits, but even healthy people. Because of the arbitrary nature of cancer, I feel it is important that we learn as much as we can about it and find a cure. Research and support is the only way to do this,” Hallsten said. He will be speaking about his experience battling cancer during the opening ceremony—the first time when he was 5 and again when he was 9.
Junior Kristen Campbell will also be participating in the Relay and speaking at the opening ceremony as a cancer survivor.
“Last year some of my friends formed a team and relayed in my honor while I was getting inpatient chemotherapy treatment. They raised about 4,000 dollars and I felt so honored to have such wonderful people relaying for me. This year, we will be relaying again, but this time celebrating that I am done with chemotherapy while raising money to support all of the wonderful people and medicine that helped me beat cancer,” Campbell said.
Students can still form teams or donate by going to www.relayforlife.com/gustavusadolphus. If they wish to be involved in the Colleges Against Cancer committee, they can attend the meetings every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in Beck Hall 221. Olson urges anyone who wishes to be involved to do so, at whatever level they choose—donations, relaying or just showing up.
“Asking people for money is always a hard thing to do when fundraising. But when it comes to cancer, everyone is somehow affected by it. It does not matter how much people donate, because it all adds up and goes toward the fight against cancer,” Olson said.