Students Relay for more birthdays

Julianna Treene & Caroline Sullivan, Contributing Writers

Each year, University students gather in Gerhard Fieldhouse to join the fight against cancer through their participation in Relay for Life, the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) most successful fundraiser. Relay for Life’s mission is to improve the rates of cancer survival and the quality of life for cancer patients and their families, as well as to honor those who lost their battle. This year, the University’s Relay for Life event raised over $41,000 the night of the event.

Students, faculty, and staff members alike joined together to celebrate those who have survived and who have fallen victim to cancer. Many Greek organizations required their members to attend Relay for a minimum of one hour, but the majority of members stayed longer.

“We had over 650 people sign up with participation from all different groups on campus. I hope to see even more participation next year, and then more the year after that. I always love this event and this year’s was no exception,” Relay for Life Publicity Chair Sydney Napp ’19 said.

Relay for Life committee members have been planning the event since last spring in order to make this year’s Relay possible.

“As fundraising chair, my main responsibility was to seek out both monetary and tangible items to donate to the the American Cancer Society. I worked with local businesses and held two fundraising events—one at Panera Bread last semester and one at Chipotle this semester where we raised over $700 for the organization. The downtown businesses were so generous, and I cannot thank them enough,” Relay for Life Fundraising Chair Jackie Saint John ’18 said.

“Relay has been the most rewarding part of my Bucknell career. I am so proud of everyone who worked on the event and I am ecstatic with how the event turned out,” Relay for Life Co-Chair Emily Heydt ’19 said.

The event began when students, faculty, staff, and community members arrived to commemorate, support, and fight back. After arriving and registering at the front desk, students met with their friends and started walking around the track. The stage was set up in the middle of Gerhard Fieldhouse, and games like KanJam and volleyball were set up so that people could play with friends. Students also enjoyed basketball games and bouncy castles. The border of the track was lined with tables where groups of relayers resided, selling candy, bracelets, and treats.

“I joined Relay for Life because I want to help play a pivotal role in the fight against cancer. This organization is a way to bring communities together to remember loved ones lost, honor survivors of all different kinds of cancer and raise awareness to help make a global impact on cancer, and I wanted to be a big part of something of this movement,” Saint John said.

The night started as two survivors and long-time friends shared their emotional battles with cancer. They spoke about the strength Relay for Life provided them and the bonds that were created through their battles. They shared their sadness for friends who fell victim to the disease but their joy for those who defeated it. After their emotional speech was the “Survivor Lap,” where survivors and their caretakers courageously walked, or limped, around the track. The lap concluded with other relayers joining them on their walk.

“It’s always so amazing to see all the people come out for the same cause and to see how grateful the survivors are,” Napp said.

Throughout the evening, different dance and singing groups entertained the relayers, including the Bison Girls Dance Team, The Offbeats, Beyond Unison, and The Silhouettes. Food was brought in from local eateries throughout the night. Relay for Life committee members eventually began handing out glow sticks, which indicated that the Luminaria Ceremony was about to start.

“I cannot begin to thank everyone who participated in Relay’s event this year. I am so humbled and touched by the turnout of Bucknellians, and I am proud to see that so many felt compelled to donate to this organization,” Kendall Hughes ’17 said.

The co-chairs then delegated instructions about when to crack their glow sticks—for grandparents, parents, friends, siblings, or close family members. The dim fieldhouse was suddenly illuminated with color as participants reflected on their loss of loved ones to cancer.

On the side of the stage played a slideshow of fellow Bucknellians holding signs describing why they relay. The ceremony concluded when students were asked to participate in the silent “Luminaria lap” to commemorate those who have lost their battles with cancer. The emotional Closing Ceremony reminded relayers of the importance of the fight against cancer.

“I hope that people will feel encouraged to continue to participate in Relay for Life because it truly takes all of us to continue to fight back against cancer,” Hughes said.

This year’s Relay for Life raised over $41,500, and fundraisers and donations continue to accumulate. No money was actually spent on relay due to the numerous donations from campus organizations, including Bucknell Student Government, Colleges Against Cancer, and local as well as non-local companies. The University looks forward to next year’s continued effort regarding further fundraising and support for cancer patients and survivors alike.

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