This Saturday and Sunday, over 200 relay teams will walk around a track for 24 hours straight, collectively staying awake and active throughout the Relay For Life walk to reflect the idea that “cancer never sleeps.”
Relay For Life is an annual event that takes place across over 5,000 communities throughout America to increase cancer awareness and raise funds for the American Cancer Society (ACS). UC Davis is a top California campus in terms of participation and fundraising.
This year, event organizers expect approximately 2,000 participants, and are moving the location from its former venue at Toomey Field to Aggie Stadium, where they hope to raise at least as much as the previous year: $140,000.
“We were really outgrowing Toomey since the event just got bigger and bigger each year – we even had to expand past the center field into the A-street field last year,” said Neda Mitkova, senior neuro-physio-biology major and co-event chair for the event. “It has made our job a bit more complex. We will not be using the center field, so we have had to get creative with the set-up. It has been a fun challenge though.”
The event began in 1985 in Washington, when Dr. Gordy Klatt personally walked around a track for 24 hours and raised $27,000 for the ACS. The next year was the first team relay event, and since then the Relay For Life has grown into the largest fundraiser of its type.
The general atmosphere of the Relay For Life is an optimistic and proactive one, with traditions in place to help participants celebrate survivors, remember loved ones and fight back by making personal commitments to healthy living and spreading awareness, said Ashley Wyrick, co-event chair for the program and senior year psychology major.
Wyrick added that Relay For Life is about more than just fundraising for many participants and organizers.
“Everyone’s reason to Relay is as unique as their own personal story,” Wyrick said. “At Relay, you can find healing, comfort and support from others who have faced cancer or who have lost a loved one to the disease. You have a chance to meet people in the community who are equally as passionate about finding an end to cancer in our lifetime.”
Relay’s participants are frequently from Greek organizations, sports teams and clubs, but groups of friends are encouraged to join as well, according to Joey Diel, the online chair for the event. Organizers do recommend informal groups to meet beforehand and discuss fundraising plans and responsibilities, however.
“One of the greatest things about Relay is the fact that it is an event where you can choose to put in as much effort as you want,” Diel said. “No matter what capacity people are involved though, they get a lot out of the experience.”
The event will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. at Aggie Stadium.
BRIAN GERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.