Relay For Life: Two thousand lives, two thousand stories

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Relay For Life: Two thousand lives, two thousand stories

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Cancer is unifying because cancer does not discriminate. Cancer does not care what race you are, what religion you practice, or how much money you have.

Relay For Life at Saint Louis University is the 13th largest collegiate Relay in the nation. It prides itself on being an outlet for students to share their stories about how cancer has impacted their own lives. It also provides a way for students to fight back against cancer, whether through the donation of money or walking around the track on the day of the event in support of a loved one.

Although the event itself is on April 16, Relay began their fall events on Oct. 7 with “Color Away Cancer.”     A white sheet was placed in the quad, and students had the opportunity to paint their hand and leave a handprint on the sheet in support of someone who has fought cancer.

The Relay Executive Board provided a sheet that listed all of the cancers and their corresponding colors, so students could choose the one they felt has had the greatest influence on their lives or their loved ones.

Once the sheet was full of handprints, the Relay team hung it up in the BSC, where it will stay for the entire year in reflection of the lasting affect cancer has on all those that it touches.

Dean Sindel, a SLU student who serves on the Relay Executive Board and has been fighting cancer from a young age, commented on the support that the SLU community gives cancer research:

“As a survivor, seeing all the student involvement on campus is pretty incredible. All of us are college students that have classes and busy social lives, but to see people taking time out of their day to support people like myself who have been affected by cancer, whether to raise money or awareness, is truly incredible to see at this level in peoples’ lives”.

Relay also had their Fall Kickoff event on Oct. 7 in the Wool Ballroom. The event gave interested students the opportunity to travel to multiple tables, talk to members of the Relay Executive Board, get more information about Relay For Life, or share their own personal story.

It was at this event that co-chairs Alex D’Agostino and Sarah Delong revealed the theme for Relay this year: “2,000 people, 2,000 stories”. This theme embodies the goal to have 2,000 students participate this year — this mark was missed last year by about 300 people. In addition, students are encouraged  to share their stories with everyone involved so that all those affected by cancer know that they are not alone.

D’Agostino and Delong shared their personal connections with cancer.  D’Agostino lost her friend Austin to Leukemia at a very young age, and Delong lost her grandfather to multiple myeloma.

Students interested in participating were able to join a team for only 10 dollars – compared to the usual 15 dollars – a deal which will continue throughout the rest of the fall semester.

Those in attendance enjoyed free ice cream with toppings that were spread out along the tables, and those that did sign up at the event received Hot Box Cookies. Fall Kickoff was successful in that Relay reached its goal of having 100 participants join.

Future events will occur throughout the rest of the fall semester and will become more frequent in the spring semester as the night of the event nears.

D’Agostino and Delong have high expectations for this year’s Relay as they hope to make “2,000 strong, 2,000 stories” a reality.

Delong expressed her vision for the upcoming event. “Relay is an experience, and we want it to be about people being able to share their experiences and stories with cancer. Almost every single person has somehow been touched by cancer, whether it is a friend or a family member, themselves … We are really excited to see everyone on the track and we hope to get the two thousand participants as well as hear everyone’s stories come April 16”.

D’Agostino summed up Relay by saying, “What makes Relay is the stories, the memories, the loved ones, the fun, the friends, the food, the dancing, the songs, the ceremonies, it all intertwines and overall makes a great event. I don’t think you can beat it.” Sign-ups for SLU Relay for Life will continue until as well as the night of the event, April 16.