Saturday, April 14th marks the date for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on campus. An annual event which participants raise money for cancer patients, Relay for Life is run through Colleges Against Cancer, an RSO here at the University of Illinois.
“Relay For Life is an event held nationwide on many different university campuses, high schools and communities to celebrate life, remember those who have passed away from cancer and to fight back against this awful disease,” Alma Juarez, Colleges Against Cancer Vice President said. “The minimum donation participants must raise is $100, but many students raise more because they understand how important it is to give back and that the money is going to a wonderful cause.”
The event is 12 hours long, from 7 P.M. to 7 A.M., and will be held at the outdoor track and soccer field, Juarez said. This is the American Cancer Society’s largest fundraising event of the year.
Relay for Life is not a running relay race. A team member from each team must walk on track at all times. There are also other activities planned throughout the night, Juarez said.
“There is entertainment all night including a survivor lap, a Luminaria Ceremony, which is a candle-lit ceremony honoring cancer survivors and those who lost their battle, and many different themed laps through the night to keep all the Relayers entertained and enthused,” Juarez said. “This year’s theme is called Carnival for a Cure. There will be some other surprise guests performing and speaking at Relay.”
Participant Kelly Cerf said she is excited for this weekend’s event because she can share this experience with some of her closest friends.
“I'm most excited about being able to bond with my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, as well as our teammates from Fiji (Phi Gamma Delta). It's nice to see sororities and fraternities giving back and coming together for a great cause,” Cerf said.
With about 125 Relay teams signed up thus far, Juarez said she hopes this last week before the event will bring in more teams.
“We are hoping to sign up 200 teams. We’re shooting a bit high but having high goals is always a good thing, it keeps us going,” she said.
“Our goal is to fundraise $200,000,” Juarez said. “Last year we fundraised $137,000 and hopefully we can surpass that this year.”
With 200 teams and $200,000 as the goal, Juarez said giving back is the most important part of Relay for Life.
“It is so easy to send out emails to relatives and fundraise that way. College students can make such a great difference, which is why we want as many students and family members to get involved and give back to the American Cancer Society,” Juarez said.
Cerf said that giving back to the American Cancer Society is very important to her.
“I've been involved in Relay for six years now. I look forward to it each and every year,” she said. “Cancer runs in my, as well as many of my friend’s families. Cancer may have taken my family members through hardships in the past, but each and every dollar going to Relay for Life can help change this for families in the future.”
“Even though I have never lost a close family member to cancer, I know it affects so many people,” Juarez said. “I relay in the hopes of someday finding a cure.”