Hundreds of candles in paper bags will light up the track on May 7 at Southern’s annual Relay for Life. These luminarias represent those who have lost their battle with cancer, are still fighting or have fought the disease and won.
“I love the luminaria ceremony. It always touches my heart,” said Cassandra Weed, sophomore communication major and member of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC). “I love looking around the track and seeing all the bags lit up around the track.”
Selling these bags is just one way CAC, the organization hosting the overnight event, plans to raise money.
“We have a lot of entertainment planned to raise money. We have a video game trailer and a haunted house we’re calling Castle of Chaos,” said Stefan Keller, sophomore social work major and treasurer of CAC. “ProCon is also sponsoring a movie trivia game show with prizes.”
Keller said all these games are planned to not only raise money to fight the disease but also to have fun in celebration of those who have beaten cancer.
In accordance with the American Cancer Society’s motto, “Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back,” the organization has planned various events to represent each of the three key words. Relay for Life is scheduled to unofficially begin at 3 p.m. at Jess Dow Field.
The opening ceremony, which officially opens the event, will include a keynote speaker and a survivor’s walk later in the evening. Cancer survivors and their caregivers are invited to lead an opening walk around the track to kick off the night. This walk celebrates their life.
“The walk is really powerful because it shows how many people in our community have had cancer,” said Keller. “They walk around the track and show they’ve survived. It’s really emotional for many people walking and gives the survivors a chance to thank their caregivers.”
Keller said that for the size of Southern’s campus, there should be more people who know about Relay for Life.
According to Southern’s Relay for Life Web site, 339 participants have registered so far on a total of 50 teams. Keller said CAC hopes to reach 60 teams this year and raise $40,000 to beat last year’s $32,000. So far, the Southern community has raised about $9,000 and the members of CAC are banking on participants bringing the money to donate at Relay like last year. One participant has raised over $800 on her own:
“My cousin has breast cancer and ever since she was diagnosed, my family and I have been very involved in American Cancer Society events,” said Weed. “When I came to Southern I knew instantly CAC was the perfect club for me.”
The Southern alumna said she hopes more people participate.
“I hope that people realize that cancer is more common than it should be and affects more people than you think,” said the Southern alumna. “The statistic is one in five people are affected by cancer so my hope is we cure cancer sooner rather than later.”