Relay for Life fights the battle against cancer

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On Saturday April 1, SLU Relay for Life put on its annual event and raised $139,264 for the American Cancer Society. The event started at 6 p.m. and closed at 6 a.m. and took place at Hermann Stadium.

The event was a yearlong effort put on by about 62 members of an Event Leadership Team (ELT) that was guided by their executive board and two co-chairs, Nathan Dollinger and Mary-Kate Brendich, as well as a 30-member Hype Squad that helped build morale. ELT met every Monday night for about two hours leading up to the event. On the week of, they were working around the clock to get everything ready. On the day of, ELT woke up at 7 a.m. to start setting things up on the field itself and they did not go home or sleep until the next morning.

Members of ELT all have a personal connection to cancer and all have a reason for why they participate in Relay for Life. ELT member, Delaney Brewer, relays for a vast number of people.

“I relay for a ton of people who have pushed me to be the best possible version of myself. Friends, family, teachers…. pretty much everywhere I turn someone is dealing with cancer, but I relay here at SLU because when you are on ELT you are part of a group of people who know what you are going through.” A regular exercise within ELT is to share why each individual member became involved in Relay. About two or three members will share their story every week so that by the end of the semester, everyone on the team knows everyone else’s story.

“You have people who have lost a parent, a sibling, even suffered themselves but I promise you that on Monday nights at 7 p.m. there is not a happier place than that room.” Brewer said.

Exactly 89 teams participated in the event and these teams came from a wide variety of student organizations as well as a variety of students from residence halls such as Reinert and Clemens. A few teams came from outside of Frost Campus, such as the SLU Med team and a team from Washington University.

The event can be described as a jovial and powerful experience and kicked off with an opening ceremony in which the co-chairs began the event, and guest speakers came in to share their stories with cancer.

Following the ceremony, cancer survivors who were present took a survivor lap around the track. Afterwards all participants followed. The message behind the event is that cancer never stops; therefore, the fight against cancer must also never stop. For this reason, the event lasts 12 hours.

Participants are encouraged to take laps around the track with their teams and stay up to symbolize how cancer never sleeps and therefore neither should the people fighting against it.

At approximately 10 p.m., the Luminaria Ceremony was held. This ceremony is unique only to Relay and is a way for participants to honor those who have survived cancer and those who have passed on. A Luminaria is a decorated paper bag with the honoree’s name on it. During the ceremony, these bags were placed on the circumference of the field and had candles in them. The lights were turned down, and all that illuminated the field were the Luminaria. The list of those honored by Luminaria was read out loud as participants walked around the track in silence.

Every team that participated in Relay that night had an on-site fundraiser to help raise even more money for the cause. These sites were peppered around the track as well as behind some of the bleachers.

There were other forms of entertainment for the participants as well. Various SLU groups came to perform at Relay including the Bollywood team, SLU Shakti, Beyond All Reason a capella and the Bare Naked Statues a capella group, just to name a few. The practice soccer field adjacent to Hermann Stadium also held a plethora of various field games.

SLU Relay for Life began in 2003. In its lifetime at SLU, Relay for Life has raised over $2 million cumulatively in its fight against cancer.