Relay for Life raises awareness for cancer

Colin Maiwurm – Staff Writer

On the 22nd of April, Gustavus’s annual Relay for Life event took place. Unlike the past few years, this year’s event was able to proceed without COVID affecting it majorly. This event was a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society which is centered around bringing awareness to cancer. Between twenty to thirty organizations were present that were involved from campus.
Relay for Life is a worldwide event which happened at different times. Anyone with any connection to the college was invited to participate and join in this event, including students, professors, custodians, family members, or even anyone who is friends with the college. Gustavus’s Relay for Life event saw a large turnout this year.
“The main goal of Relay for Life is to provide funds for the American Cancer Society to support survivors and caregivers of those with cancer. They do that by providing rides to medical visits, as well as different accommodations for those who are battling cancer and their loved ones. They provide wigs for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy along with researching to find a cure for cancer,” Co-President of Colleges Against Cancer Kendall Harvey stated.
Relay for Life began with an opening ceremony and a series of events that proceeded throughout the night. Usually the president of the college, along with a few others from the campus and the American Cancer Society, would then make a speech; this past year the president of the college was unable to participate. To wrap up the opening ceremony, a guest speaker told their story about their fight against cancer along with all of the hardships that they had to endure.
This year, Amelia Espinosa was the guest speaker. A Gustavus graduate from 2020, Espinosa had fought Hodgkin’s lymphoma and went through chemotherapy while attending graduate school. After the opening ceremony, guests were free to mingle and enjoy the plethora of events scattered around the Lund arena. While the cause is a serious issue, the Relay for Life event invited people to contribute to the cause through entertainment and games. This year’s event had multiple organizations from campus perform for everyone at the event, from juggling to singing.
Gustavus graduate Henri Santelman (‘21) wrote a choral piece, “Carry the Light”, inspired by a friend and her struggling with breast cancer. The piece was performed by GSharp during the candlelight vigil.
In addition to this, many campus organizations set up booths to support the cause and raise awareness for cancer. While there were many ways to donate, one of the biggest ones was the coin toss competition. Knowing that not everyone has the money to aid in this fundraiser, there were also ways to contribute without spending money. Besides being present at this event, one way to support this fundraiser was to participate in the running event, in which contestants would receive a ticket every time they ran a lap. This event lasted for half an hour. Once the half hour was up, there was a drawing to see who had the winning ticket.
This event was based on the first ever Relay for Life in 1985, when one man ran laps for over twenty hours to support cancer awareness and raised thousands of dollars in doing so. In addition to the running event, there were pieing events that participants could join in on and the Chuck Norris challenge, where people could see others attempt to eat a massive, messy burger. Each and every one of these events were diverse and meant to provide people with enjoyment and entertainment while also contributing to an important cause.
This year there were over three hundred participants from all over campus. In addition to this surprising turnout, the event also helped raise about fourteen thousand dollars for the American Cancer Society. “The first resource I would recommend is the American Cancer Society website. On our Instagram, we post monthly during the school year of different awareness campaigns, like May [which] is brain tumor awareness month,” Harvey stated. Though this event provided a lot of educational information, there is still a lot left to learn, which is why students are encouraged to further educate themselves outside of the event.

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