Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that this year there will be more than 1.5 million cancer diagnosis in the U.S. alone. Relay for Life is the primary fundraiser of the American Cancer Society. All over the country, communities gather to celebrate cancer survivors and remember those who have passed away. The Athens area will be having one of these fundraisers on March 24. For nine hours, Ohio University students, as well as members of the Athens community, will gather to raise money to fight against the disease that affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. Relay for Life of Greater Athens co-presidents Danielle, Erica and Lyndsey talked with HCOU about the work they have done for this cause.
Her Campus Ohio U: How many years have you been involved with Relay for Life?
Erica: I went to my first Relay event when I was 2 years old and have participated in Relay For Life on and off over the years ever since. Coming into OU as a freshman, I knew the one thing I definitely wanted to be a part of was Relay. I found the Relay table at the student org fair my first weekend here and have been on the planning committee for the past 4 years.
Lyndsey: I've been involved with Relay for Life since I was in eighth grade. This coming event will be my 10th.
Danielle: This is my fourth year.
HCOU: Why did you decide to get involved with Relay?
Danielle: A close friend of mine, Kyle Terrian, passed away in December of 2013. He had graduated from my high school in 2010 and was studying mechanical engineering at Ohio University. He is the reason I'm a bobcat!
Lyndsey: Eighth grade was the year my poppy was first diagnosed with colon rectal cancer. My English teacher, Mrs. D'Annolfo, had been involved with Relay for Life and got me involved with our community’s team.
Erica: My grandfather lost his battle with pancreatic cancer when I was 2 years old. I relay in loving memory of him and in hopes of finding a cure so others don’t have to lose precious time with those who they love.
HCOU: What has been your favorite Relay memory?
Lyndsey: It's hard for me to choose just one memory of relay for life as my favorite. There are so many amazing parts of every single relay event. They're always a blast. But I have to say my favorite memory this far would be the luminaria ceremony at the first relay event without my grandpa. Luminaria is always touching, but after you've seen someone fight as hard as he did it really changes your life. I'll never forget the way all of my friends and my family came together in that moment.
Erica: My favorite relay memory is one that I get to experience every year – the luminaria ceremony. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to light the candle in the luminaria I dedicated to my grandfather almost every year. This is the one time every year that I feel the closest to him and that is why it is my favorite ongoing relay memory.
Danielle: My first year participating I was a team captain and the event lead for my county asked me to be the kick off speaker the next year's event because of my dedication to the cause. We were the only high school team at the event and we raised a lot more money than any of us had expected.
HCOU: What are you most excited for with this year’s Relay?
Lyndsey: As one of the co-presidents this year, I'm really excited to see what the amazing committee we put together can do. I'm really looking forward to our school and the community joining forces at this year's relay for life event. I think it's going to be super
Danielle: The university event and the community event combining this year has opened a lot of doors for us. I am really excited to see new faces and activities at the event... like the fireworks!
Erica: This year’s Relay event holds a very special place in my heart. I am lucky enough to be one of three Co-Presidents, which allows me to play such a big role in the planning and executing of our event. OU and Athens Relay’s have merged this year, so our normal event is about to double in size! I cannot wait to see OU and the community come together to raise awareness and funds for cancer research. I feel more invested this year than ever and it’s all for my grandpa.
HCOU: What inspires you to continue the fight against cancer?
Danielle: Being able to help someone have the desire to keep fighting because of the Relay For Life events keeps me coming back. Doctors help the patients with the biological side of things, treatments, surgeries, medicine. Relay For Life gives hope to those fighting. Without hope or a drive to keep fighting what good is the medicine?
Erica: I am inspired to continue the fight against cancer by the thought of making my grandfather proud. I am also inspired by those who have been touched by cancer and their strength to keep going. It gives me the motivation to continue to relay in the hopes of one day finding a cure.
Lyndsey: I fight against cancer for my poppy who lost his battle against brain cancer in 2012. He fought so hard for four years. I've promised myself to continue his fight until cancer is just another zodiac sign.
If you are interested in learning more about Relay for Life of Greater Athens and would like to participate check out
Danielle: third from left
Erica: 2nd from right
Lyndsey: far right