Relay for Life 2018

9th biennial Relay for Life

Kim Truong, assistant editor

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Relay for Life is a biennial event that raises money for the American Cancer Society, which in turn aids cancer patients, treatments and research.

Social worker Mary Kieffer has been managing this event for 15 years.

“The very first relay was in 2003. […] Somebody from the American Cancer Society approached me at that time and I thought it sounded like a good thing,” Kieffer said, “I’m now totally invested in it because both of my parents passed away due to cancer, so it’s very important to me.”

Since then, Relay for Life has raised more and more money for cancer.

“Our first relay, we made $15,000 dollars. We were really proud of that. Each year, [the goal has] gone up. This year, we are at $64,390. We’re very proud of that,” Kieffer said.

Additionally, Relay for Life is also used to educate students about cancer and honor those who have been affected by cancer.

“I think that it’s so important to get information about cancer out to our students and also give them the opportunities to help, for us to honor survivors, and remember those who have passed away due to cancer too,” Kieffer said.

At Relay for Life there are many activities for students to enjoy and observe in honor of cancer survivors. The opening ceremony is one of the distinguishing ceremonies of Relay for Life. Cancer survivors and patients walk the first lap around the track as all of the participating students gather around the track to mark the beginning of the event.

“The survivors taking the first lap is very touching to me. Seeing all of our students wrapped around the track, watching these survivors walk that first lap, and we’re cheering them on, ‘good job,’ ‘way to go,’ ‘we’re here for you,’” Kieffer said, “Some of them were going through the chemo treatments right now— really feeling tired and [feeling] the pain that some of that causes— so them seeing all of the students rallying around gives them an extra boost. So it’s really fun to see that.”

The Luminaria ceremony is another important part of Relay for Life. Bags with cancer patients’ and survivors’ names are written on them are lit up and placed around the track to remember those who have passed or are still battling cancer.

“Another favorite part is the Luminaria ceremony, and that starts once it gets dark at about 9 o’clock. That’s where people have purchased bags, or donated 10 dollars for a Luminaria bag and it has names of their loved ones, either who, in memory of or passed away due to cancer or in honor of them of somebody who is battling cancer,” Kieffer said, “We light these bags up and then they outline the entire track, so it’s a very quiet ceremony. The names of the people who’ve passed away are being read off one by one.”

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