By MIGUEL MARX
The University of Mary Washington’s sixth annual Relay for Life honored cancer survivors, those who are currently diagnosed with cancer and loved ones that had passed away at the Battleground Athletic Complex last Saturday.
The relay went from 6 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday the next day and was attended by students, community members and faculty alike.
Relay for life, an event created by the American Cancer Society, was started in 1985 by Dr. Gordon Klatt who raised $27,000 from running on a track for 24 hours.
Besides the relay itself, the event included games, music and prizes for all attendees such as Mr. Relay, a slam poetry competition and Zumba.
Relay for Life is team-based and requires at least one individual from each team to be walking around the track at any time; each completed lap increases the amount of money raised towards cancer research.
The event’s tribute to all affected by cancer united the participants in their motivation to raise awareness and funds.
Maggie McMaken, a sophomore and English major who participated in the relay shared her goals for her participation for the event and said that she “heard about the relay because one of my LLC residents is on the planning committee. I just to bring awareness to cancer.”
Senior English and secondary education major Taylor Agee also shared her goal for the relay event and said that she “heard about it [Relay for Life] at Alpha Mu. A friend and I [were] trying to get to 100 laps. We want[ed] the prize.”
A survivors’ lap was completed by cancer survivors, initiating the relay before the teams took to the track.
Many of the students in attendance had been affected in some manner by friends or family with the disease.
“There are many people who I am relaying for: my grandma Ceiter, my aunt Jennette and recently, Lauren Hill,” McMaken said.
Hill died from an inoperable brain tumor on April 10. She was a member of the Mount St. Joseph University basketball team in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Similarly, Taylor Agee recalled never personally knowing a family member because of the disease.
“I am not [relaying for a particular person] but I have had family members pass away from cancer,” Agee said.
Freshman, Alex Smith, was relaying for his aunt in memory of a lost cousin.
“My cousin died when I was 6, she was 17. So I’m doing it for my aunt, she [cousin] was her daughter,” said Alex Smith, freshman and sociology major.
The cornerstone tribute to all those who passed away from cancer was capped off by the Luminaria Ceremony. During this ceremony, candles were lit by the Relay for Life committee members to represent loved ones who passed away.
The illuminated bags contoured the track as participants raised awareness and funds for cancer research throughout the night.
In addition, a special tribute was made to Grace Rebecca Mann and was held during the traditional Relay Luminarium. A multitude of students gathered to remember Mann, who was an executive board member of Feminists United, an active member of PRISM and involved with the SGA
The tribute included a slide-show and Cedric Rucker, the Dean of Students, gave a memorium speech. Relay for Life had opened the event to the public so that students who remembered Grace could attend.