Tents and lights filled the Jack Christiansen Memorial Track Friday night, as participants of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life gathered together to honor cancer victims.
Student organizations raised almost $10,000, which with only 100 participants, was more than expected.
Allison Bruce, the community relationship manager for the American Cancer Society who organized the event, said the effort is to create awareness for the disease.
“This year, we had bands there, and lots of games and things,” Bruce said. “We also try to include information on educating people on cancer and ways to be advocates to the legislature about cures for cancer.”
Each relay begins with two of the event’s traditions: the survivor victory lap and the luminaria service.
The luminaria ceremony begins with participants decorating the edges of the track with paper bags, all of which have the name of a survivor or loved one who died from cancer.
“It’s a touching ceremony,” Bruce said. “It just tugs at your heartstrings.”
Afterward, the 100 participants walked together, some taking shifts as others went to the warmth of their tents. Others walked all 12 hours, pushing through the cold weather and late night.
Walking the track all night, Ashley Chipman, a sophomore at CSU said she was there for her mom.
“I’m training for the Avon walk in June,” Chimpan said. “I’m out here for my mom, just supporting the cause.”
Jennifer Holtzmann, a sophomore psychology major and team leader for the relay, got involved to remember her aunt and uncle, both of whom have fought cancer.
“I walked last year and helped to see if it would be back at CSU this year,” Holtzmann said. “It’s an important event and a good way to bring people out and celebrate together.”
The spirit of remembrance was strong among participants Friday night, illustrating the foundation’s message that everyone is affected by cancer somehow.
“Everybody knows somebody who has had cancer,” Bruce said. “These events are important just so that people realize that it does affect college students as well the older generation.” Plans for next year are underway, with Bruce working hard to recruit students to organize it and gain publicity.
Bruce is working to get even more students involved, which she hopes would, in turn, convince CSU to give them the oval next year. All plans are still in progress, but Bruce has high hopes for an even larger turn out, not only in participants but coordinators.
The relay on campus is student driven, meaning students plan, recruit and participate Bruce said.
“It’s a real community event, and the students work hard to get it to be what people would come to,” Bruce said.
Staff writer Alexandra Sieh can be reached at email@example.com.