The University of Richmond raised nearly $25,280 April 1 in its fifth annual Relay for Life, a relay walk to support cancer research.
The American Cancer Society Relay for Life is a global event that began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Wash., walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society, according to Relay's website, relayforlife.org.
According to the website, "Relay has grown from a single man's passion to fight cancer into the world's largest movement to end the disease."
Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the U.S., along with communities in 20 other countries, raise funds and awareness to save lives from cancer, according to the website.
This was the first year that Richmond held the event for 12 hours overnight, said sophomore Jenna McAuliffe, who is on the Relay public relations committee. In past years, the event was off campus and in the fall. Since it was pushed back to the spring this year, there was more time to plan and secure a feasible overnight location.
Having the event overnight is symbolic of patients' journeys with cancer, McAuliffe said. The sun setting represents the diagnosis. As the night goes on, it gets colder and darker, which represents the darker hours of the disease. The sun rising represents the treatment. By the time the event is over, the sun is up, but the walkers are exhausted, which represents the hard fight and cure.
The night began with a survivor dinner in the Robins Center, which survivors from the community and people who had raised more than $100 were invited to attend. Senior Claire Ziegler said she had met people who had beaten breast cancer, which her mother had been diagnosed with three months ago. The survivors gave her tips and recipes that were helpful during chemotherapy.
"I was really surprised at how Relay functioned as a sort of cancer network," Ziegler said. "So many people have been touched by cancer and everyone was so willing to provide support."
The first lap of Relay was a survivor lap, in which the survivors walked while people applauded and honored them. After that, everyone was welcomed to join in the next few laps.
About 283 people on 32 teams walked around the Robins Center while live musicians, such as campus a cappella groups, student bands and a DJ performed and people played games and activities to the theme of "Survivor: Hawaii."
At least one member of each team had to be walking at all times throughout the night to stay true to the slogan: "Cancer never sleeps. Neither do we." Relayers could add a bead to a string for every lap they had walked. Ziegler stopped after 100 beads because her necklace was full and the number of beads was getting low.
Teams fundraised with activities like tie-dying, face painting and bidding on dates. Candles purchased in remembrance of loved ones lost to cancer were lit along the walkway during a candle lighting ceremony.
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It was a serious event, Ziegler said, which was what brought everyone together. But, it was not a somber event, rather a celebration.
Relay is taking donations until Aug. 31. Ziegler, who has already raised $1,695 and is in second place, plans to continue raising money. She said it was as simple as sending an email to family and friends.
Contact reporter Sarah Craig at firstname.lastname@example.org
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