BY MARK CIMILUCA
There will be over 1.6 million new cancer diagnoses in 2016 according to an estimate by the American Cancer Society, and in order to combat the disease that affects so many, the American Cancer Society puts on Relay for Life events to raise the funds necessary for research and recovery.
The overnight fundraising walk hosts teams who camp out around a track and team members take turns going around the track all night.
Salisbury University will hold their own Relay For Life event this spring for the 15th time on April 22 from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Last year’s relay saw over 1,500 Salisbury students participate and raised $125,040, which ranked Salisbury 22nd in the nation for collegiate fundraising. This semester’s goal is to raise $125,000 once again.
Siena Manoogian, co-executive director of SU’s Relay For Life committee, described the environment of the main event as highly positive with a type of friendly competition.
“No one is fighting against each other, we all have the same goal,” she said.
Manoogian explains that the reason why participants are encouraged to stay up all night is to serve as a metaphor that cancer never sleeps, and to symbolize the fight of a cancer patient.
The first step toward getting involved is to form a team. Teams can consist of clubs, Greek Life, sports teams or just a group of friends.
Throughout the semester, teams will hold several meetings and fundraising events. When the relay arrives, each team sets up their campsite either indoors in Maggs Gym or outdoors in the Perdue Lawn.
Each year, the relay has a different theme. This year’s theme is “Toon in for a Cure,” so each team will develop a site related to the cartoon theme.
While walking laps, participants can view all of the different sites, where teams will sell shirts, make food or set up games. There are also general activities throughout the night like Zumba, haircuts for donation and a Miss Relay Pageant.
“The atmosphere is great, and that draws a lot of people,” Carly Berkowitz said, another co-executive director of SU’s Relay For Life committee.
The first lap around the path is dedicated to cancer survivors. Additionally, there is a luminaria ceremony to honor those who have battled and are battling cancer.
Each luminaria bag is dedicated to an induvial and are customized with names, pictures, messages and drawings, and are illuminated by candles after dark.
There is then the luminaria lap – tabbed by Manoogian as the most emotional part of the ceremony – to honor those who have lost their fight to cancer and for those who are still fighting.
The event concludes at 6 a.m. The closing ceremony celebrates the accomplishments made throughout the year, and looks to continue the fight into future years.
Relay for Life allows students to bond together and work toward eliminating cancer. This is accomplished through many events, and culminates with the all night relay.
Participating in Relay for Life is a chance to celebrate and have fun, but also remember those who have and are battling cancer and provides a chance to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
There are many ways students can get involved, teams can be formed by going to http://www.relayforlife.org/sumd. There is also a Facebook page and Twitter account for additional information.