Relay For Life, a fundraising event for The American Cancer Society, takes place in different communities all over the country. Keene State College’s Relay For Life puts in time and effort, year after year, to plan this event on campus. They have inspired and touched many of those who are directly or indirectly affected with cancer, the students behind this event said.
Participants form teams to walk laps around a track, and participate in activities at the 12-hour overnight event. Relay for Life’s mission during the event is to celebrate those who survived, to remember those who have passed and to fight back against cancer.
According to information provided by KSC junior Ashley Preston, chair of the Planning Committee for Relay For Life, the organization started at KSC in 2010 because of 2013 KSC graduate Becca Lazinsk, who started the committee her freshman year.
During their first year, KSC’s Relay For Life event raised $18,000 with almost 200 participants. Their latest event in 2013 saw an inrcrease in numbers.
A total of $25,000 was raised by 32 teams and 400 participants, which also included 19 cancer survivors who attended the event. For the next Relay For Life, scheduled for April 2014, Preston said she hopes the numbers will continue to grow.
“We haven’t set goals yet but we want to have at least thirty-five teams and I’d like to have at least five-hundred participants. And as far as the money, I’d like to do maybe thirty-thousand dollars just to up it. So we’ll see how that goes,” Preston said.
To begin spreading the awareness of Relay For Life, the Relay For Life Planning Committee at KSC hosted a kickoff event Wednesday, December 4.
American Cancer Society representative, Kelly Heinze, spoke of Relay For Life at the kickoff event. “The event is an overnight event. We will start with the opening ceremonies, which is huge for the survivors. We invite survivors to come and be recognized during our opening ceremonies and they do the first lap to honor them. Then throughout the night there are tons of entertainment, activities and games,” Heinze stated.
Heinze said she started with Relay For Life at University of New Hampshire as a team captain and walked for four years in a row. Now working for The American Cancer Society, Heinze referred to why she is inspired to continue her work with Relay For Life.
“My mom has battled cancer on and off since I was eleven [years old]. Cancer affects everyone. Directly, indirectly, it really is everywhere. So that keeps me going,” Heinze said.
A long-time Relay For Life participant, DJ Caligiuri, spoke at the kickoff event of why she continues to attend Relay For Life each year.
“Since I started relay four or five years ago, I’ve had a lot of friends and family members get diagnosed with cancer. Having such a close relationship with this, going through these aliments makes me think that they’re doing all these things to stay alive the least I can do is stay up all night,” Caligiuri said.
Relay For Life at KSC strives to celebrate, remember and fight back against cancer in their next event in April of 2014.
“I feel like it brings people together because I know a lot of people have known someone who’s had cancer at one time. And the good thing about relay is no matter who’s in the room, you all know what’s its like to see someone go through cancer. It’s really an emotional bond. I know I connected with a lot people that I didn’t know were affected by cancer in the same way,” Preston said.
Annelise Kloster can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org